Behind Enemy Lines — Jacksonville

To help prepare you for Saturday's preseason game against Jacksonville, Bucsblitz.com's Matthew Postins asked Jagnation.com's Charlie Bernstein to fill us in on six burning questions surrounding the Jaguars entering the game. This is our latest edition of our premium feature, "Behind Enemy Lines."

MP: If memory serves, Jack Del Rio made Byron Leftwich his starter entering camp. Is he still the guy? And, in your opinion, how much rope does Leftwich get before Del Rio considers inserting David Garrard?

CB: Jack Del Rio did indeed name Byron Leftwich the starting quarterback way back in February, and his status as the starter has been cemented due to a very impressive camp. The way Garrard finished last season, Leftwich would have to be physically unable to play before Garrard would enter the picture. Garrard has all the physical tools to be a great quarterback, but he can't go through his progressions, and he's very inaccurate from 15 yards or greater. Garrard seems to make at least one poor decision every time he plays.

MP: Maurice Jones-Drew surprised everyone with 16 total touchdowns last year. But can he be the type of back that can handle a Pro Bowl-type workload (300 carries or more)?

CB: At the end of last season, Maurice Jones-Drew had to handle the bulk of the carries due to a minor injury to Fred Taylor, and he averaged nearly 100 yards per game. Jones-Drew can handle the full workload, but he won't have to with a healthy Fred Taylor, as well as Greg Jones.

MP: Which one of the myriad of receivers on the Jags' roster is going to step up and assume Jimmy Smith's mantle? Or, is that receiver not on the roster yet?

CB: The Jaguars wide receiving corps has been improved significantly since last season, due to the acquisitions of Dennis Northcutt, Mike Walker, and John Broussard. If there is a receiver on this roster that has the ability to fill the enormous shoes left by Jimmy Smith, it is Mike Walker. Walker has similar size (6'2", 210), great hands, speed, and great route running ability.

MP: You asked me about Sabby Piscitelli in your questions to me, so I'll ask you about first-round pick Reggie Nelson. I've heard rumblings that he could start at cornerback, not safety, on opening day. Is that true, and if so, why?

CB: Reggie Nelson will be the Jaguars starting free safety on opening day. Nelson has the skills to play some nickel corner, but the Jaguars have a greater need at safety, and that's where Nelson will play.

MP: How much of an impact will the return of Mike Peterson have on this defense?

CB: Mike Peterson is without a doubt, the vocal and spiritual leader on the Jaguars defense. In Peterson's absence, the Jaguars finished with the second-ranked defense overall in 2006, but they are certainly a much better team with him on the field. Peterson is one of the league's best linebackers, even if not many people outside of North Florida know about him.

MP: What's the most surprising rise of a player, or surprising fall, of a player during Jags training camp?

CB: Probably the most surprising player overall in Jaguars camp has been seventh-round pick and wide receiver John Broussard. Broussard is a small, speedy guy who isn't afraid to go over the middle, and unlike most smaller receivers Broussard has a great set of hands. Broussard was expected to be a practice squad candidate entering camp, but at this point it seems as if there is no way the team can cut him.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna (Ga.) Observer.


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