JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone’s focus remains up front.
The Jaguars’ head coach following a preseason loss to Philadelphia Thursday called the offensive line a priority, and the team got good news in that area on Saturday:
The group is as healthy as it has been since training camp began, and Marrone said he hopes the group can play against the Miami Dolphins in Preseason Week 3 Thursday.
“As far as playing time, we’ll see how the week goes,” Marrone said Saturday afternoon before a short practice at the Dream Finders Homes Flex Field at Daily’s Place adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. “If they’re healthy, I’m planning on playing those guys.
“There are other things that could happen that could change, so I’m not going to hold myself to it, but that’s what I’m trying to get done.”
The offensive line was one Jaguars storyline Saturday, a day that also marked wide receiver Marqise Lee’s return from the physically unable to perform list. We detail Lee’s return here. We’ll discuss other returning players later in this story and examine the recent performance of third-team quarterback Alex McGough.
But a primary topic Saturday was significant progress in offensive line health. Rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor and left guard Andrew Norwell both returned to practice, meaning the potential starting line of Taylor, Norwell, left tackle Cam Robinson, center Brandon Linder and right guard A.J. Cann practiced together for the first time since training camp began.
Taylor had been out for a week and a half with a knee injury, and Norwell also has missed the first two preseason games with an injury.
Robinson returned to practice last week after being activated from the physically unable to perform list last Monday. He had missed the last 14 games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“That’s the goal first – to get them out there, get them playing, get them practicing to a level,” Marrone said. “Then you get them to a level playing with each other, then they go out there and actually perform. It’s just a matter of availability and the amount of reps they can handle as they work their way back.
“Once they’re out there practicing, there’s still that next decision, ‘Do we put them out there in the game?’ We’re going to address that when we get closer, but I’m happy they’re out there.”
Marrone said last week he wants to get the starting line together before playing starting quarterback Nick Foles in a preseason game. Foles, like most Jaguars front-line players and starters, has yet to play in the 2019 preseason with Marrone holding many players out to be as healthy as possible for the September 8 regular-season opener against Kansas City.
“We have a lot of work to do to get going,” Marrone said of the line. “It would be different if we were getting a lot of reps during the week, but we’ve had guys out. To say we can’t get to where need to get to … that’s not true. We’re going to have to get this thing in overdrive. Fortunately, we have to time after this game before the first game of the regular season.
“That’s where we’ll be looking to make up (time) in a simulated way where it’s not as much contact.”
Also on Saturday:
*Rookie running back Ryquell Armstead returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a concussion in the preseason opener at Baltimore August 8. Safety Cody Davis and wide receivers Terrelle Pryor Sr., Tyre Brady and Dede Westbrook also practiced after missing Thursday’s Preseason Week 2 loss to Philadelphia for injury-related reasons. Linebacker Quincy Williams (knee) and tight end Josh Oliver worked on the side in the portion of practice open to the media, while tight end Geoff Swaim and tight end Charles Jones did not appear to be practicing during that period. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and running back Alfred Blue (ankle) were not seen at practice during the open period.
*After releasing 2017 sixth-round quarterback Tanner Lee Saturday morning, Marrone on Saturday afternoon spoke highly of McGough’s athleticism and arm strength. Signed as a free agent in January, McGough now is the third-team quarterback behind Foles and rookie Gardner Minshew II. “He’s got a lot of work ahead of him,” Marrone said. “We’re excited to be working with him, and he’s always continuing to work hard, so we’ll continue to keep working with him.” McGough completed two of nine passes for 10 yards against Philadelphia, but had a long, accurate pass dropped and rushed twice for 21 yards. He scored the Jaguars’ first touchdown of the 2019 preseason on a four-yard scramble. “It means a lot,” McGough said. “It’s fun to go out there and play well. It’s not fun to go out there and stink like a trash can. I enjoyed going out there and playing with the guys. We ended up doing well, scoring the first touchdown of the season. It was cool to get that bear off our back, but I honestly feel like I left some plays out there I could have done. There are things I need to work on to further improve.”
*Marrone on Saturday also reiterated what he has said multiple times in recent days – that second-year guard Will Richardson Jr. is pushing Cann at right guard. Richardson, a fourth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, missed his rookie season with multiple injuries and Marrone on Saturday called his performance during the preseason a “great” storyline. “I give that kid credit because he could have easily been written off or written off himself,” Marrone said. “He really didn’t do a lot last year, didn’t contribute a lot. A lot of things, a lot of disappointment, you could almost use that term. Then you go into this following year and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You wish for the best, but you prepare as if it’s not going to be there, you know what I’m saying? I’ll tell you what, this kid, I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what transpired -- I’m not trying to get into his head -- but he has really, really turned the corner and is playing well to a point where he’s battling for a starting position with a guy that has played a lot of football games here. It’s great for us. It’s great for our football team. It says something about the kid.”