Getting Closer to Full Strength
The Jaguars had somewhat of a skeleton crew in Sunday's loss to the New York Jets as tight end Marcedes Lewis, wide receiver Jason Hill and cornerback Derek Cox were all missing in action. Although offensive tackle Eben Britton played some, he wasn't healthy enough to start.
This week the team is expected to have Britton and Cox back as they participated fully in yesterday's practice, and Marcedes Lewis and Jason Hill might be able to go for the game at Carolina.
"I remain hopeful for all of those guys and I think all of those guys should be available," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said.
Courtney Greene has been a nice contributor for the Jaguars after they signed him as a free agent after being waived by the Seattle Seahawks. Greene started the majority of games at strong safety last season and the first two games of this year but it appears as if his starting days are over.
After Greene had a poor game against New York, Jack Del Rio is choosing to go with Dwight Lowery to play opposite free agent acquisition Dawan Landry.
"He's more of a free safety and that's why we got him," Del Rio said of Lowry. "He's been working in in sub packages and working his way into our defense."
When the Jaguars signed Dawan Landry it certainly upgraded the back end of one of the worst pass defenses in football from a year ago, but he isn't the type of rangy sideline-to-sideline safety that the Jaguars needed. With this being a pass-first league, Landry with limited range and Courtney Greene who has much less range leaves Jacksonville exposed.
"He's really ideally a strong safety and he's been doing a good job over there playing somewhat out of position, but doing a good job as a strong playing in the free role, but we're going to move on and play Lowry," Del Rio explained of his safety situation.
If there's any further question to why Jacksonville was pounded by New York last Sunday, just keep in mind that two players, Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowry play key roles for the Jaguars defense. Those players were not good enough to find spots with the Jets.
How Much Better is Gabbert than Two Weeks Ago?
Although the would never admit as much, if the Jaguars front office knew that Luke McCown was going to implode in just the team's second game they likely would have started Blaine Gabbert from the beginning.
"That was considered and we elected to go this way," Del Rio said.
Realistically, not starting against the Titans and Jets isn't going to really stunt Blaine Gabbert's growth so it's pretty much no harm, no foul. The Jaguars are pressing the issue that Gabbert was able to really learn off the field over the past two weeks about game planning.
"If you look at the last two weeks of intensive preparation it was similar to maybe a month of OTA's in terms of continuing to work the detail, getting comfortable with the system, all the intricacies of playing that position, there's quite a bit that goes into it," Del Rio explained. "We bought a little time."
Gabbert feels that he learned a lot over the past two weeks.
"It's a week to week process, you learn more after every week," the Jaguars starting quarterback said. "You get into a routine. You start to pick up on different things. You watch film; I guess you're a little more detailed when you watch it. I've definitely got a lot better as a quarterback after these two weeks."
Will nerves come into play for the 21-year old quarterback?
"You're always going to have butterflies," Gabbert said. "When you're doing something that you love and you care so much about and you put so much time and effort throughout the week, you're going to have butterflies before the game. I think something is wrong if you don't have them."
Sunday will be a great measuring stick for Gabbert as he takes on a pretty solid Carolina Panthers secondary and defensive line.
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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