The start of OTAs always brings with it a rush of anticipation. Imagine what it would be like if the Jaguars had drafted Tim Tebow.
Be that as it may, the "Underwear League" will open its season in Jacksonville next Monday. Eighty-six hopefuls will gather on the Jaguars' practice fields to strut their stuff without fear of reprisal because, after all, you can't hit anybody in the "Underwear League."
Who will have been its stars when the "Underwear League" caps its brief, one-month season on June 22? Past springs have given us such notables as Chad Owens and Charles Sharon.
Anyhow, here are 10 storylines that might hold our attention through the underwear season.
- David Garrard's new commitment—The Jaguars quarterback says he's all in. Last year, it was John Henderson; this year it's Garrard. We'll watch for signs Garrard is new and improved.
- Emphasis on rushing the passer—Free-agent acquisition Aaron Kampman will spend the spring recovering from ACL surgery, so all eyes will be on the other new guys on the defensive line, draft picks Tyson Alualu, D'Anthony Smith, Larry Hart and Austen Lane.
- Safety in numbers—The safety positions did not distinguish themselves in mini-camp and that needs to change in OTAs. Out of a group that includes Reggie Nelson, Sean Considine, Gerald Alexander, Anthony Smith and others, the Jaguars desperately need for two men to emerge as quality starters, because help does not appear to be on the way.
- It's what's in the middle that counts—The interior of the Jaguars offensive line is an area of concern. Vinny Manuwai is still in comeback from ACL surgery. Brad Meester is trying to milk another year out of a career that has made him the team's all-time center. Uche Nwaneri can play guard or center but needs to settle in at one. Kynan Forney is trying to reclaim his career. Will young lions emerge?
- Where's the competition?—Coach Jack Del Rio said competition for jobs and roster spots will be the theme of the spring and of training camp. Where might that competition occur?
- Who's number two?—The Jaguars need to find a number two receiver to replace Torry Holt. Mike Thomas, Troy Williamson and Jarett Dillard seem to be the front-runners for the spot. Who will come out of the spring with the job?
- McCown's time to shine—Backup quarterback Luke McCown turned in a very strong performance in mini-camp. OTAs will offer the best opportunity to date for McCown, who was acquired late last summer in a trade, to show what he can do. Can he push Garrard?
- Anyone got a nickel?—Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox are the starting cornerbacks, but the "nickel" back position will be up for grabs. Scott Starks and Don Carey would seem to be the leading contenders.
- What about that depth?—General Manager Gene Smith appears to have effected significant roster repair in just two years, but just how deep are the Jaguars? OTAs will afford an opportunity to determine the level of athletic ability the Jaguars roster possesses.
- 10. Lost on a feeling—Whatever good feeling the Jaguars achieved on the way to 7-5 last year was lost in a four-week losing streak that dropped the team out of playoff contention and resulted in lopsided defeats in the final two weeks of the season. Regaining that good feeling begins next week.