Growing List of Concerns for Jags

The Jaguars will suit up for the first time since January on Thursday night when they take on the New England Patriots. Where does this Jaguars team stack up compared to the unit which dropped its final three games to end 2010? Find out what concerns have arisen throughout training camp.

Last year's Jaguars team rode a physical running game and stellar special teams to an 8-5 record, before their yearly collapse occurred. After some seasoning by the young players and timely free agent acquisitions, the team is hoping to increase their win total, despite facing what appears to be a tougher schedule.

Whenever David Garrard is the quarterback, your team is likely going to be shaky in big games. The Jaguars addressed that with the selection of Blaine Gabbert, and its just a matter of time before Garrard's nervous stomach will be replaced with Gabbert's rookie mistakes.

Although it's tough to tell anything about the running game in training camp with no real hitting, the Jaguars backup running backs look quick and healthy. Adding a well-rested Maurice Jones-Drew gives Jacksonville perhaps the best stable of backs in the NFL.

Although the team looks the part, don't expect to see a 2,000 yard rushing year. The left guard position will be a certain concern since Vince Manuwai was given his walking papers just a few days into camp. Jason Spitz isn't nearly the player that Manuwai was, and Will Rackley is an unknown quantity, being a rookie from Lehigh.

The passing game will have several challenges which partially stem from the offseason decision to let Mike Sims-Walker walk in free agency. Although Sims-Walker had his issues with injuries, he was the only receiver that could demand double-coverage and he was a big part of the reason for Mike Thomas' breakout season in 2010.

Through the first week and a half of Jaguars practices, Jacksonville receivers have struggled to get open. With no real viable upgrades to a cornerback position which finished 28th in the NFL in pass defense, the Jaguars have to be concerned about separation. If the receivers can't get open quickly, the Jaguars shaky right tackle position could be further exposed and the growth of rookie Blaine Gabbert may be stunted.

Defensively, the Jaguars will still likely have issues rushing the passer. Aaron Kampman is expected to be the team's best pass rusher but after his second ACL surgery in as many years, Kampman's explosiveness may be effected. Opposite Kampman will be veteran Jeremy Mincey who has seven career sacks in five seasons, and second-year players Austen Lane, Aaron Morgan and Larry Hart. That trio combined for a less than spectacular 30 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season. Although Morgan and Lane look quicker in camp, the position is still a major question mark.

Jacksonville's linebackers really shouldn't be a concern in 2011 with the additions of Clint Session and Paul Posluszny. Each player will have to fit into Mel Tucker's scheme and earn their money.

The back end of the defense should still be a concern. Although Rashean Mathis had a much better season than most gave him credit for in 2010, he is on the wrong side of 30 and losing a step seems like an inevitability. Derek Cox has missed most of camp with a calf injury and he's no sure thing, as the third-year pro is still trying to live up to the second-round compensation the Jaguars relinquished for him.

At safety, Jacksonville addressed one position with Dawan Landry and if they pair him with Courtney Greene, it's expected that the team will be tough on the run, but lacking in coverage skills. Other options such as Michael Hamlin, rookie Chris Prosinski and Terrell Whitehead don't really seem to be legitimate at this time.

Some of these concerns will be eradicated during preseason games, and some will be further exposed. Jaguars fans will watch the games and hope for the former, rather than the latter.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

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