JACKSONVILLE – The confidence is real.
Jaguars center Brandon Linder expressed it Wednesday. This was two days after Head Coach Doug Marrone – who has expressed it all offseason – expressed it again.
The topic was the Jaguars' offensive line, and how a group that has been criticized throughout the offseason will fare in 2020. Linder didn't discuss the criticism Wednesday.
He did discuss how he feels about the line entering 2020 Training Camp.
"Everyone's really looking great," he said.
Linder, speaking to media during a videoconference Wednesday, discussed all projected starters on the offensive line. He said left tackle Cam Robinson is another year healthy after a torn anterior cruciate ligament limited him to two games in 2018. He said left guard Andrew Norwell and right guard A.J. Cann are looking great, adding that right tackle Jawaan Taylor "did great things as a rookie last season."
"It's going to be exciting this year," Linder said. "You'll just going to have wait and see, but there's going to be good things."
The excitement hasn't always been shared by observers and media this offseason, with many projecting the area as one that needed to be addressed in free agency or the draft. The Jaguars last season allowed 42 sacks (15th-most in the NFL), committed 48 penalties as an offensive line and as a team finished 17th in the NFL in rushing.
Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell throughout the offseason talked highly of the group, and Marrone reiterated that confidence when meeting with the media Monday.
"I have been saying it since right after the season when people are saying what are you going to do with the offensive line? I feel pretty good," Marrone said. "I think this group is going to be ready to take a big step. … I think you guys will see the difference. I'm not going to put words in your mouth, but they look good – all of them."
The Jaguars appear likely to enter the season with the same offensive-line starters as last season, when Robinson started 14 games at left tackle and all other starters – Norwell at left guard, Linder at center, Cann at right guard and Taylor at right tackle – started all 16 games.
"It's going to be huge," Linder said of the continuity.
Third-year veteran Will Richardson Jr., who started two games for Robinson at left tackle last season, has moved from guard to left tackle permanently and could compete with Robinson in training camp.
"I will be watching to see how that group grows in these next couple of weeks when we start playing football, not necessarily now," Marrone said. "I know those guys have worked extremely hard. It's a very prideful group. They are a very close group like I think most teams are with the offensive line. …. I think we have a lot of good guys there and they care about their performance which is obviously important."
Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:
*Second-year defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen was asked about rookie defensive end/linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson matching the 10.5 sacks Allen registered as a rookie last season. "Ain't no trying … he has to," Allen said. "We try to bring in guys who are willing to compete and play from Day One. He's a guy we're looking to play a big role this year. What I did last year is what I did last year. That's something that he can strive to be better than me. I'm going to do as much as I can to help him get to that point." Allen was selected No. 7 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft; Chaisson was selected No. 20 overall in '20.
*Linder specifically discussed Taylor, a second-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft who many around the Jaguars believe has Pro Bowl potential: "It's all going up. He's an incredible athlete, an incredible talent. Now, he's getting the knowledge under his belt and getting experience in the NFL. Everything is going up for him. He's going to be a force this year." …
*Linder on why Jaguars second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II sometimes receives little attention or "respect" from national media and analysts: "I try not to read a lot of that stuff. I kind of stay off social media and all of that. I don't know why they still doubt him, but that's OK, because it means he's going to have a chip on is shoulder and he's going to come again to prove something. And that's all right. He's a heck of a kid. He's a heck of a talent. He's come into camp in hella shape, so I think he's going to do a great job." …