JACKSONVILLE – All quarterback and nothing but quarterback …
Is that how it has felt around the Jaguars last few days? The last few weeks? Months?
Well, of course that's how it has felt because that has been the Jaguars' reality lately. The heat of that reality took a major uptick last week when Head Coach Doug Marrone declared open competition between Blake Bortles and Chad Henne.
But you know all about that. Which begs the question …
What else is going on around the Jaguars? What other positions are worth watching as the Preseason Game 3 against Carolina at EverBank Field Thursday approaches?
Because you asked, we'll examine that here. We'll stay away from running back, because that position looks very close to set with Leonard Fournette, Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant likely to make the roster. We'll veer from linebacker, too – because the starting three of Myles Jack on the strong side, Paul Posluszny in the middle and Telvin Smith at weak side appears set, too. And once the secondary gets healthy, the starting five looks strong with A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey at outside corner, Aaron Colvin at the nickel and Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church at safety.
And we'll stay away from quarterback because we'll get plenty of that elsewhere this week. (All week. And then some.)
So, here's a look at three other positions around the Jaguars to watch this week as the Jaguars prepare for the third game of the 2017 preseason:
1.Offensive line.This remains the most critical area outside quarterback, and it's an area that needs to block better than it did against Tampa Bay last week – particularly against the run. Jaguars running backs rushed for 30 yards on 17 carries in that game; this team must run better than that. Brandon Linder and Jermey Parnell have been good most of preseason and camp and are locked in at center and right tackle, respectively. Right guard A.J. Cann has worked with the ones through most of camp and figures to start. The team is working players at left guard after Patrick Omameh struggled there against Tampa Bay; Omameh still figures to be the likely starter, but that position is fluid. One question that figures to get answered in the coming week and a half: left tackle, where Cam Robinson and Josh Wells have split reps though much of camp. Robinson, a rookie second-round selection, figures to start the regular-season opener. Marrone hasn't wanted to anoint him the starter yet, but you have to figure it happens soon.
2.Wide receiver.The Jaguars are young, strong, deep and talented here. That has been evident through training camp and two preseason games. But how will this position shake out? That's not quite as certain. Allen Robinson obviously is rock solid as one starter, and Marqise Lee will start opposite him Week 1 provided he returns to 100 percent from the ankle injury he sustained eight days ago. Veteran Allen Hurns did not play in the first two preseason games, and second-year veteran Shane Wynn and rookie free agent Keelan Cole took repetitions with the first team against Tampa Bay. Cole is making a serious run for the roster and he likely makes it, and special teams ace Arrelious Benn also appears a lock for the roster. Rookie Dede Westbrook leads the NFL in preseason yards receiving and figures to be on the roster. That makes Robinson, Lee, Hurns, Cole, Benn and Westbrook the most likely six receivers to make the final roster, but stay tuned. Two preseason games remain.
3.Kicker.This will remain uncertain until Jason Myers gets more consistent. He has struggled on field goals to start the preseason, missing from 50 and 53 yards in the preseason opener in New England and missing from 40 yards against Tampa Bay. He also missed an extra point after a short snap. The Jaguars love Myers' leg strength, and that remains an enticing asset for a team that wants to emphasize special teams and field position, but a team can only withstand so much inconsistency on placements. The Jaguars brought in kickers for tryouts following the Tampa Bay game, but Myers remains the lone kicker on the roster. "We brought some players in," Marrone said. "We looked at them. We just felt that right now, it's best to stay where we are, knowing that at every position we could always bring someone in." Stay tuned here, too. This is an area to watch closely in the final two preseason games.