JACKSONVILLE – And then there were 53.
It was a long process getting here for the Jaguars, a process that began with unrestricted free agency in March and ended Saturday when the team made four roster moves to reduce the roster to the NFL-mandated 53-player limit.
The team also on Saturday moved defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks from the physically unable to perform list to the active roster. He spent the offseason and training camp/preseason rehabilitating after January reconstructive knee surgery and is now on the 53-man roster.
It also was a competitive process, with the team on Friday releasing four draft selections from the past three seasons – that after not releasing any draft selections, besides Chris Smith who was shortly re-signed, in the first two years of the David Caldwell/Gus Bradley era.
But that's where the Jaguars are now. This is a deeper, more-competitive roster, and the 22 moves made Friday and Saturday showed it. David Caldwell called it the toughest round of cuts to 53 he has had in three seasons as the team's general manager.
Here's a position-by-position look at the 53-man roster as it stands now:
After a month of training camp and preseason battles, the final roster is set. Here are your 2015 Jaguars in photos!
Blake Bortles, Chad Henne
Breakdown:No mysteries here. Bortles is the unquestioned starter and Henne is the unquestioned backup. Look for Stephen Morris, released on Friday, to return to the practice squad. If Bortles' preseason translates to the regular season, the Jaguars could be in better shape at the position than they have been in a long, long time.
Running backs (5)
T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart, Bernard Pierce, Corey Grant.
Breakdown:This is a position that suddenly appears a lot deeper than before. Look for Yeldon, a rookie second-round draft selection, to open the season as the starter, but this is going to be a position with a heavy rotation. Robinson played at a high level throughout training camp, and Gerhart has earned a role as a third-down/pass-receiving back. Pierce earned his way onto the roster with a strong offseason and training camp, with Grant's speed and breakaway ability making him too dangerous to release. Caldwell said Saturday the team could have five backs active on game day because of the ability of Pierce and Grant on special teams.
Tight ends (4)
Julius Thomas, Marcedes Lewis, Clay Harbor, Nic Jacobs.
Breakdown:Like running back, this position appears far deeper and better than last season. Thomas is out at least the first two weeks of the regular season with a hand injury, and Lewis has had one of the best training camps of his career. Harbor remains a legitimate threat as a receiving tight end, and Jacobs is one of the team's more underrated young talents.
Wide receivers (5)
Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Rashad Greene, Bryan Walters.
Breakdown:This is a position with potential, though entering the season that potential remains largely unproven. Second-year veterans Robinson, Hurns and Lee form the core of the position, with Robinson throughout the offseason displaying the size and athleticism that could make him a go-to receiver. Hurns continues to be a reliable option, and is open as consistently as any Jaguars receiver. Lee's availability remains an issue, and Caldwell said Saturday he's 50-50 for the regular-season opener because of a hamstring issue. Greene progressed as training camp continued and has a chance to contribute in the slot this season while Walters earned his way onto the roster with the most consistent hands of any Jaguars receiver in training camp.
Offensive linemen (9)
Left tackle Luke Joeckel, left guard Zane Beadles, center Stefen Wisniewski, right guard Brandon Linder, right tackle Jermey Parnell, center Luke Bowanko, guard A.J. Cann, guard/center Tyler Shatley, tackle Sam Young.
Breakdown: Aside from Bortles, this may be the Jaguars' area of most dramatic offseason improvement. Parnell has proven a big upgrade at right tackle since signing as an unrestricted free agent and Linder may be the team's best offensive lineman. Wisniewski won the job in a camp battle with Bowanko and his experience in coordinator Greg Olson's offense is a plus. While many predicted a camp battle between Beadles and Cann, the veteran Beadles appeared significantly improved in new offensive line coach Doug Marrone's scheme. Joeckel had some well-publicized inconsistency early in preseason, but coaches like his progress. The team feels as good about its depth as its starters, with a lot of confidence in Shatley and Young as frontline reserves. Caldwell on Saturday said the decision to keep Young over veteran Austin Pasztor came down to Young's ability to play left tackle. That became a priority when second-year veteran Josh Wells was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury.
Defensive linemen (10)
End Jared Odrick, tackle Tyson Alualu, tackle Roy Miller, Leo Chris Smith, Leo Andre Branch, Leo Ryan Davis, Leo Chris Clemons, tackle Michael Bennett, tackle Abry Jones, tackle Sen'Derrick Marks.
Breakdown:The line struggled to pressure the passer in the preseason. Still, there's talent and experience here, with the addition of Odrick in the offseason expected to solidify the run defense. Alualu is expected to start at the three-technique tackle position until Marks returns from knee rehabilitation, and Miller will start at nose guard for a third consecutive season. Look for the Leos to rotate heavily, with Smith playing first and second downs and Clemons and Davis lining up in the team's pass-rushing lightning package. Branch is out for a significant time with a knee injury and Jones and Bennett should play extensively backing up Alualu and Miller early.
Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, Otto Dan Skuta, LaRoy Reynolds, Thurston Armbrister, John Lotulelei.
Breakdown:The front-line linebackers are as strong as they've been in several years, with Smith having the look of an impact, game-turning linebacker. Posluszny is healthy after finishing last season on injured reserve with a pectoral injury, and Skuta's versatility and pass-rushing strength could be key early as the Jaguars look for ways to pressure quarterbacks. Observers have questioned the depth here, but Reynolds is one of the team's top special teams players and the team liked Lotulelei's playmaking ability on defense and special teams. Armbrister made the team as an undrafted free agent.
Defensive backs (9)
Cornerback Aaron Colvin, cornerback Davon House, safety Johnathan Cyprien, safety Sergio Brown, cornerback Demetrius McCray, cornerback Dwayne Gratz, safety Josh Evans, safety James Sample, cornerback Nick Marshall.
Breakdown:This is an area with potential that must continue to develop early. Colvin impressed throughout his first full NFL offseason, and along with House, Gratz and McCray gives the Jaguars a capable foursome of front-line cornerbacks. Safety is a bit more of a question entering the season, with Cyprien having missed the final three preseason games with a finger injury and Sample missing the first three preseason games recovering from a broken arm. Evans made the roster after seeming to be on the bubble throughout camp, while Marshall appears likely to play mostly on special teams this season while continuing to develop as a corner.
K Jason Myers, P Bryan Anger, LS Carson Tinker.
Breakdown:Specialists aren't always fraught with preseason storylines, but the Jaguars traded long-time kicker Josh Scobee to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a move that made the strong-legged, talented Myers the team's kicker. Anger enters his fourth season as the Jaguars' punter and Tinker enters his third season as the long snapper.