Ben Freid: Bjoern Werner
Bjoern Werner was a first round draft pick in 2013 for the Indianapolis Colts. After years of inconsistency and never living up to his potential, the Colts waived him in March of 2016. There isn’t a player on this Jags defense the NFL preseason means more to in terms of playtime. With the amount of young talent invested in this Jags defensive line, it’s clear Werner was brought in only for depth. This preseason could be the difference of him playing in the NFL for one more year or four more years. If he doesn’t come through for the Jags, this is it for him.
Dante Fowler Jr and Yannick Ngakoue have spent the most time with the first team defense at the end position. Werner has been mostly on the third team as well as spent time on the second team. He hasn’t shown much in training camp so far and will need to prove himself Thursday night.
Werner is in a tough spot on this Jags defense. They have invested so much into their front seven; it’s tough to stand out among the young talent. This preseason is the most important preseason Werner will play in. He is not fighting for a roster spot; he is fighting for his NFL career.
Zac Blobner: Dwayne Gratz
Dwayne Gratz is a player being lost in the shuffle of expensive free agents & talented draft picks landing in Jacksonville. The 4th year corner back has showed promise in his career, after posting good numbers in 2014 (2 fumbles, 8 passes defended, & an interception for a touchdown in 13 starts.) But after a mediocre season last year in which his stats and playing time dwindled, Gratz's future in Duval and role in Gus Bradley's defense is uncertain.
So far, the story through training camp has ranged from Jalen Ramsey's freak athletic ability to how the addition of Tashaun Gipson has elevated Jonathan Cyprien's game. Even Davon House has put together a real solid body of work on the field against Blake Bortles & co. The spotlight has yet to be on Gratz, however a strong preseason could change that starting Thursday night against the Jets. There is big opportunity in the big apple, if Gratz wants to remain relevant, he'll have to seize it.
Kerry Belkin: Max Wittek
Max Wittek is a rookie free agent from Hawaii. If being an undrafted free agent wasn't a tall enough mountain to climb, he signed with a team that is pretty heavy at the quarterback spot.
Blake Bortles and Chad Henne are set at the first and second string spots respectively, and it's hard to imagine that the Jaguars would keep four roster spots open for quarterbacks. With that said, Wittek will probably be spending training camp battling with sixth round pick Brandon Allen for the third string spot. Considering that the Jaguars invested a draft pick in him, its tough to imagine that Jacksonville would let Allen go, adding a little more to Wittek's uphill battle.
Thus far, backup quarterback play so far in Jags training camp has been less than spectacular. If Wittek is to remain with the team, he'll have to show the Jags something worth noting going forward. He'll have an opportunity Thursday against the Jets, and he'll need to make the most of it.