Charlie Bernstein: Despite having a fantastic rookie season, Maurice Jones-Drew slimmed down a bit to try and get a little faster. He looked very explosive during minicamps, but you can't really tell too much when there is no contact allowed. I expect Jones-Drew to be an even better football player in his second season, but he will likely not put up the same stats with the return of a healthy Fred Taylor, Greg Jones, and an improved passing game. He likely won't see the same amount of touches, and his 16 touchdown total of '06 will be tough to repeat.
Q: Byron Leftwich is in the last year of his contract and reports
indicated Jack Del Rio wanted to use the team's first pick in the 2007 draft on
Brady Quinn. What's the current status of the quarterback situation in
Jacksonville and how do you see it impacting the team's chances of winning the
AFC South this year?
CB: The current state of the Jaguars quarterback situation is that Byron Leftwich has been named the starter for '07, and will likely remain the starter as long as he's healthy. Leftwich is a solid quarterback, and if he can stay healthy the Jaguars will compete for the AFC South title. If Leftwich is out for any significant amount of time, the Jaguars are not a playoff team. As far as the future of the position is concerned, if Leftwich has a good year, I believe the team will franchise him. If he gets injured or plays poorly, he will not be retained, and the Jaguars will have to start over again with a rookie from the '08 draft.
| Mike Peterson|
CB: Mike Peterson is 100 percent healthy and ready to go from the torn pectoral that he suffered in week five against the Jets. Despite the middle linebacker missing 11 games last season, the Jaguars defense still finished second overall. But make no mistake about it, the return of Peterson is huge. The former Indianapolis Colt is one of the very best linebackers in football and his leadership skills help the entire defense. The Jaguars defense is considerably better with Peterson on the field.
Q: With offensive tackle Khalif Barnes getting sentenced to 6 months of probation after pleading no contest to a DUI charge, are there expectations in Jacksonville that he'll face action from the league? And if he gets suspended for a number of games, how much will that impact the offense in your opinion?
CB: It is extremely doubtful that Khalif Barnes will see any kind of additional suspension from the league for his DUI conviction from last October. There have been more than 20 NFL players that have been arrested for some form of drunken driving over the last year, and none of them have faced any penalties from the league for that one violation. Barnes had never been in trouble prior to the incident, and hasn't been in trouble since.
Q: The Jaguars added some wide receivers during the offseason. How much do you think they will upgrade the passing attack? And do you expect any of the receivers from last year's roster will have a significantly bigger impact on the offense this year?
CB: The Jaguars passing attack in '07 should be a night and day difference to what anyone saw in '06. A healthy Byron Leftwich returns and the team has a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, who employs a more attacking philosophy of offense. Throw in free agent acquisitions Tony Pashos (RT) and Dennis Northcutt (WR), and the selections of Mike Walker and John Broussard in the draft and the Jaguars now have legitimate deep threats. I expect Reggie Williams to have a breakout year in '07, as he was off to a fast start in '06 while Leftwich was healthy.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association.