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The Jaguars' 53: Breaking down the roster


JACKSONVILLE – The speculatin' and figurin' is over. At long last.

The Jaguars on Saturday reduced their roster from 75 to 53 players, releasing some familiar names and drafted players as they did.

David Caldwell had said he expected this round of roster moves to be the toughest of his four seasons as the Jaguars' general manager, and a close look at who made the final 53 and who didn't shows he meant what he said. These moves couldn't have been easy.

Two former draft selections were waived, including fourth-year veteran Josh Evans. His release means four players from Caldwell's first draft class (2013) remain: No. 2 overall selection and left guard Luke Joeckel, second-round strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, third-round cornerback Dwayne Gratz and fifth-round running back Denard Robinson.

The Jaguars also released 2016 seventh-round selection Tyrone Homes, a defensive end from the University of Montana. Holmes and several of the other players released are eligible to re-sign to the team's practice squad. Teams can begin signing practice squad players Sunday.

Other notable players remaining on the 53-man roster include rookie quarterback Brandon Allen, meaning the Jaguars retained three quarterbacks along with starter Blake Bortles and backup Chad Henne.

The Jaguars also opted to keep five running backs, a group that includes not only starters T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory but Denard Robinson, Corey Grant and Joe Banyard – the latter of whom had a productive preseason.

Here's a position-by-position look at the roster after the cut to 53:

Quarterbacks (3)

Starter: Blake Bortles. Reserves: Chad Henne, Brandon Allen.

The news here is the decision to keep three quarterbacks. The sense after the team selected Allen in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft was that that was the likely plan. Allen played well enough in the offseason and preseason to make that plan stick. Henne remains the backup and Allen looks like the backup of the future.

Running backs (5)

Starters: Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon. Reserves: Denard Robinson, Corey Grant, Joe Banyard

This held a bit of a surprise with the Jaguars keeping five running backs. Ivory and Yeldon are likely to share carries as true co-starters, and Grant continues to show rare, game-breaking speed. Look for the Jaguars to figure ways to get him involved more. Robinson appears to be the third running back, and Banyard made the team with an impressive preseason.

Offensive linemen (9)

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum, left guard Luke Joeckel, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann, right tackle Jermey Parnell.  Reserves: Josh Wells, Patrick Omameh, Chris Reed, Tyler Shatley.

The Jaguars solidified the starting unit last week with the announcement that Beachum will start at left tackle and that Joeckel will move from left tackle to start at left guard. The right side looked solid most of the preseason. The Jaguars like Reed at left guard if Joeckel is injured or falters. Keeping nine here was necessary as the team waits for Wells – the top swing tackle – to recover from a thumb injury.

Wide receivers (5)

Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns. Reserves: Marqise Lee, Rashad Greene, Bryan Walters.

There were no real surprises here. This was the five-player wide receiver corps much of last season. Barring injury, it probably will be the wide receiver corps throughout this season.

Tight ends (4)

Starters: Julius Thomas, Marcedes Lewis. Reserves: Ben Koyack, Neal Sterling.

This was a bit of a surprise area with some observers believing the team could keep five tight ends. But the emergence of Koyack as a capable blocker allowed the release this past week of blocking tight end Nic Jacobs. Sterling made the team as the reserve move tight end behind Julius Thomas after being moved to the position this offseason from wide receiver.

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Defensive ends (5)

Starters: Leo Dante Fowler Jr., end Jared Odrick. Reserves: Yannick Ngakoue, Chris Smith, Tyson Alualu.

The decision to keep Smith surprised many observers, but he improved enough during the offseason and training camp that keeping him was a pretty straightforward decision. While Fowler is the starting Leo, both he and Ngakoue figure to play extensively in passing situations. Alualu's reliability again proved too valuable to release.

* *

Defensive tackles (5)

Starters: Malik Jackson, nose Roy Miller III. Reserves: Sen'Derrick Marks, Sheldon Day, Abry Jones.

This area is deep in one sense and not quite as deep in another. Miller is clearly the team's best nose tackle and the team has struggled to stop the run without him. But the penetrating, attacking three-technique tackle may be the team's deepest area with Jackson and Marks capable of playing at an elite level – and with Day showing signs of contributing as a rookie.

Linebackers (5)

Starters: Weak-side Telvin Smith, middle Paul Posluszny, Otto Dan Skuta. Reserves: Myles Jack, Hayes Pullard III

Five linebackers is a relatively low number but Pullard and Jack are versatile players who can play multiple positions. Pullard has impressed since joining the Jaguars and he was an easy roster decision. Jack, a second-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is showing enough in recent weeks that he will be on the field in a prominent role early in the season. The nature of that role will be a storyline in the coming days.

* *

Cornerbacks (5)

Davon House, Prince Amukamara/Jalen Ramsey. Reserves: Dwayne Gratz, Josh Johnson.

This area figures to be very, very deep when cornerback Aaron Colvin returns from suspension – and it's pretty deep even without the third-year nickel back. Amukamara was impressive throughout the offseason, and Ramsey – the No. 5 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft – has the look of a dominant, game-changing corner very soon. Johnson made the roster with an impressive offseason and preseason.

Safeties (4)

Starters: Strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, free safety Tashaun Gipson. Reserves: Peyton Thompson, Jarrod Wilson.

Three of these four were decided early in training camp, with the team very much liking what Thompson is giving them at the free-safety position. Wilson won a roster position by consistently making plays throughout the offseason and preseason.

Specialists (3)

Kicker Jason Myers, punter Brad Nortman, long snapper Carson Tinker.

There was little mystery here entering the weekend with punter Ryan Quigley and kicker Sam Ficken having been released earlier in the week.

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