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Week in focus: Speed, speed, speed

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the week that was around the Jaguars during Week 3 of 2016 Organized Team Activities …

Speed, speed, speed

Paul Posluszny talked about speed this week. He smiled as he spoke.

The subject was the Jaguars' defense. The veteran middle linebacker talked about Tashaun Gipson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Telvin Smith – and how the unit was much faster than any Jaguars defense in the last five years.

And that's without Myles Jack. And Jalen Ramsey.

"They're not even here yet," Posluszny said as 2016 Organized Team Activities at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields drew to a close. "When they get here, we'll be even faster and more athletic."

Of all of the themes of Jaguars 2016 OTAs, the increased speed on defense perhaps has been the most notable to the casual observer.

"One thing you'll notice is there's a lot of speed out there," Gipson, a safety who signed with the Jaguars in March as an unrestricted free agent from Cleveland, said. "There's a lot of speed and guys out there playing fast. That's one of things that you look at year-in and year-out – the teams that play fast and the fast defenses, those teams are the ones playing meaningful games in December and potentially playing in January.

"This is going to be an aggressive, fast defense."

The Jaguars' lack of speed defensively in recent seasons has been glaring at times. Adding Jack, one of the fastest linebackers to enter the draft in recent years, to a linebacker corps that already includes Telvin Smith – he, too, one of the NFL's fastest players at the position – should make it faster immediately.

Fowler, a defensive end who missed his 2015 rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, has the sort of athleticism to significantly increase the overall speed of a unit. Ramsey, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, also has remarkable speed for a cornerback of his size.

The next step, Posluszny said, is to play well enough within the defense to turn natural speed into effective football speed.

"It's still how smart can we play, and how disciplined and technique-sound can we play," Posluszny said. "Now that we know we have the athletes … that's great, but you have to be able to be really disciplined, lined up right and really know what we're doing.

"That's when it really jumps out on film, when guys are lining up. We want to get to the point where mentally we're so sharp and precise that everything says, 'Wow, these guys can really run and really move.'''

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Images from the Jaguars final day of organized team activities.

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Real deal?

If OTAs are an indication, there's a lot of reason to be optimistic about the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.

That's Fowler, and whatever uncertainty may have surrounded the ACL tear that cost him his rookie season is rapidly fading.

It's being replaced by genuine excitement. Fowler not only has looked healthy and certain when moving on the knee, he has appeared powerful and quick. That's what a No. 3 overall selection is supposed to show in non-contact offseason work, but to show it a year removed from an injury continues to be a very good sign.

 

Around the Jaguars

*Assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone spoke to the media Friday for the first time in OTAs. Though understandably cautious while assessing the group because of the offseason's non-contact nature, he said the group has gained strength and speed in the offseason. "Those are the things you're looking for as a coach," Marrone said. "They've all shown the ability to work hard throughout a whole practice, from the standpoint of conditioning. So they've done everything they could. I think where you get to improve and you get to see where you're at is when we put pads on, when we start hitting and playing football." …

*Marrone spoke specifically on Friday of left tackle Luke Joeckel, saying the fourth-year veteran this offseason has "done everything he can from a physical standpoint. He's come back heavier, he's come back stronger without losing any mobility as far as foot speed and what he does. He's doing everything he can to be the best he can be which we all appreciate. Now it's just a matter of going out there in training camp and preseason and playing well." …

*With Joeckel expected to compete with newly-signed Kelvin Beachum in training camp for the starting left tackle job, Marrone also was asked about Beachum. Beachum is rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him the last 10 games with Pittsburgh last season, but Marrone said he liked a lot about Beachum when scouting him before his signing. "It's not like it's a one-dimensional thing that he does well," Marrone said. "He basically does a lot of things well overall." …

*Marrone said Brandon Linder's transition from guard to center "has gone very well." The third-year veteran is expected to start at center next season after starting 15 games at guard as a rookie and three in 2015 before a season-ending shoulder labrum tear. "He has very good foot speed so that's something you need – foot speed and hand speed at center," Marrone said. "He's done everything from a standpoint of evaluation extremely well. There are just a couple things that we just have to keep working on to get better at and that's what we'll look forward to in training camp." …

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