JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Now that the Jacksonville Jaguars have apparently settled on their 53-man roster heading into Sunday’s season opener at Houston, here’s a breakdown of the group:
Brandon Allen made the initial cut on Saturday but was one of five players let go on Sunday after the Jaguars claimed players off waivers. His performance in last Thursday’s preseason finale -- three red zone interceptions (including two in the end zone) -- clearly hurt him. If he clears waivers the Jaguars may sign him to the practice squad because a quarterback was not among the seven practice squad players they signed on Sunday.
There was speculation that Yeldon would not make the roster, in part because he was bothered by multiple injuries throughout the offseason, camp, and the preseason. Yeldon, however, is by far the group’s best pass-blocker and that’s a valuable skill. He also is a very good receiver (his 50 catches last year were second-most on the team). It would have made no sense for the Jaguars to cut him.
FULLBACK (1): Tommy Bohanon
It wasn’t much of a competition here because seventh-round pick Marquez Williams was hurt most of camp.
There was speculation that Hurns was being shopped around but when I asked executive VP of football ops Tom Coughlin about that he gave an emphatic “no.” Hurns, who is guaranteed $7 million in 2017, is coming off a disappointing season in 2016 (career-low 35 catches) in which he missed the final five games with a hamstring injury but he still has a better per-catch average in three seasons (14.6) than Robinson (14.1) or Lee (12.7).
Alex Ellis had the versatility to play fullback so it was interesting that he wasn’t retained considering the lack of competition at fullback. O’Shaughnessy has just eight catches for 86 yards in 23 games over the past two seasons with Kansas City so it looks like his role will be as a blocker.
Despite the fact that the Jaguars’ biggest weakness on the offensive line is the interior, the team didn’t claim a guard or center off waivers on Saturday. Poehls is a tackle and he’s never appeared in a game since signing with Tennessee as an undrafted free agent in 2014. The Jaguars failed to make any significant upgrade to the unit other than drafting Robinson in the second round. Watford has been injured most of camp and seemed to play OK in the final preseason game so he may have won the left guard spot. The Jaguars had numerous chances to address this group in free agency and failed to do so and it’s going to be what keeps this team from being competitive in the AFC South.
Despite the defense’s struggles against the run in the preseason I think it will be fine in that area this season. However, the pass rush is again going to be an issue. Ngakoue had a very good rookie season (eight sacks) but has to become more consistent. Fowler says he has matured and is using his hands better but he has to back that up on the field. The improved secondary will help a bit but the Jaguars have to get to the quarterback quicker.
Brown and Payne are rookies and McCray was signed to be a core special-teams player so there is very little experience behind the starters here. That means the Jaguars cannot afford any injuries. At least the team did the right thing by moving Posluszny back into the middle on first and second down.
The Jaguars opted to keep Myrick because of his speed (4.28 in the 40-yard dash at the combine) though he struggled throughout much of camp and was outplayed by Brian Dixon. Coughlin admitted that Myrick “has a lot to learn” and “didn’t have any idea what he was getting into when he first got here.” He’s a project and the Jaguars believe they can keep a project on the active roster instead of someone who can help them now.
This group was pretty much set in stone from the time OTAs began and Thompson and Wilson got a lot of valuable reps while Church and Gipson were out during OTAs and minicamp.
Overton had a bad snap against Carolina that played into a Myers miss but the Jaguars feel pretty good about this group. Myers rebounded with a good game against Atlanta in the preseason finale. His work on kickoffs cannot be overlooked.