JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five Thursday takeaways as the Jaguars prepare to play the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday …
1)Yes, he Cann.We begin Thursday Takeaways at right guard, where for a second consecutive week Brandon Linder appears a likely game-time decision. Whereas Linder's replacement last week likely would have been second-year veteran Tyler Shatley, Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said rookie A.J. Cann took first-team repetitions at right guard Thursday. Bradley said Cann has progressed nicely in recent weeks – and that while Cann worked primarily on the left side in training camp and the offseason, the power-oriented right side fits his strengths. "Generally, the right side is more power," Bradley said. "That's really his skill set, too. It's a pretty good match for his skill set so we'll see how he progresses with it." Given Cann's power and size – and how much coaches liked him in the offseason – many projected Cann would start over veteran Zane Beadles at left guard. Now, it appears his first NFL start could come on the other side.
Images from Thursdays Practice held at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields.
2)Back on the left side.One starter out, another back in the lineup. That appears a likely scenario on the offensive line, with left tackle Luke Joeckel practicing full Wednesday and Thursday. "I would say this, first of all: (reserve tackle) Sam Young did a nice job when he stepped in for him," Bradley said. "Continuity is important, and they practice with him in there all during training camp … to get him (Joeckel) back is a good sign." Bradley said Joeckel's presence could particularly help the running game, where the Jaguars rank 23rd in the NFL at 92.0 yards per game. The Jaguars rushed for 57 yards against the Patriots last week. "Before he got hurt, I think that's where he did some really good things (in run-blocking)," Bradley said. "I think he's really improved in that area." Joeckel on Thursday said his week had gone normal with no limitations or concerns from the sprained ankle that kept him out the last two weeks. "I feel quick, fast and ready to go," Joeckel said.
3)"That's all on me."Bradley on Monday pointed the finger at himself when it came to the defensive approach against New England Sunday. Bob Babich on Thursday said the head coach wasn't to blame. Babich, the Jaguars' third-year defensive coordinator, on Thursday took responsibility for the Jaguars staying in softer coverage against the Patriots for as long as they did, something Bradley on Monday said was on him. Ideally, the Jaguars play aggressive with their corners with a "single-high" safety. "Once again, that's all on me," Babich said. "I got away from it a little bit. I needed to make sure that I stay on top of it, but hopefully it's something that won't happen again. That's on me. We had a plan and different things factored into why I got away from it and once again, (I) need to make sure that I stay on top of it and do the things that were best at."
4)Looking deeper.The numbers issue that seemed dire in the Jaguars' secondary early in the week may not be quite as dramatic come the weekend. While five defensive backs – cornerback Davon House, safety Johnathan Cyprien, safety Sergio Brown, safety Josh Evans and cornerback Dwayne Gratz – missed all or part of the New England game, two of those players have returned to practice full this week. Those players are Gratz and Cyprien, both of whom are expected to play Sunday. Evans practiced limited Wednesday and Thursday and House returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday. Brown's absence remains a concern, but it may not be a situation that necessitates roster moves. One key is the return of Cyprien, whose presence on Wednesday Bradley said was important to the entire secondary. "I thought he looked really good yesterday," Babich said of Cyprien. "He was focused, locked in – like he hadn't missed the amount of weeks that he had missed. That was good to see."
5)Still fighting.Babich isn't ready to say the Jaguars can't force turnovers. Actually, he's far from saying that. The Jaguars entered the season focused on creating more turnovers, particularly interceptions; they forced 20 turnovers last season with just six interceptions. This season, they have forced just one turnover – an interception by middle linebacker Paul Posluszny in Week 2 against Miami – and have caused one fumble. "I think we have the ability to make plays," Babich said. "Everything that we do as a coaching staff, we're trying to do – whether it's practicing techniques to take it away or emphasizing it and showing them how it gets done. We feel like we have the players that can make it. It hasn't shown up, but we still believe that."