There is never anything good about an injury, whether it happens in training camp, the preseason, the regular season, or in the playoffs. After the Jaguars injury-plagued 2006 season, a season in which they placed 15 guys on the injured reserve list, a training camp injury during the first week to a veteran starter, has to have the Jaguars coaching staff and fans alike thinking, "oh no, not again!"
Brad Meester is a solid, veteran, NFL center. He's more than serviceable, and he helped pave the way for the Jaguars third-ranked rushing attack in 2006. Meester has been a full-time starter for the Jaguars ever since his rookie season of 2000, missing just four games due to a torn biceps injury in 2005. With this ankle injury, Meester is expected to miss anywhere from eight to ten weeks after he has surgery, which will probably happen today. If that timeline holds true, Meester would likely be healthy for the Jaguars fourth regular season game against Kansas City.
So in a league where the propensity for fan-bases and media alike is to panic over virtually any injury or setback, why doesn't anybody in Jacksonville seem overly concerned about Meester's status? First off, Meester's injury has come at a pretty good time considering that the team doesn't play their first regular season game for another five-plus weeks, and they have a bye after the third week of the season. If Meester can follow that particular timeline for his recovery, he would only miss the first three games of the season, and those opponents are Tennessee, Atlanta, and Denver, none of which made the playoffs in '06.
The second reason why there isn't any hint of widespread panic around Duval and the surrounding counties, is the presence of Dennis Norman on the roster. Norman is one of the most underrated players on the Jaguars roster, and the offensive lineman is capable of filling in at any of the positions on the line. When Meester went down in '05, Norman came in and the offense didn't miss a beat. Norman served again last season at left tackle when Khalif Barnes was suspended, and there was no dropoff in play again. Last year during training camp, Norman nearly claimed the starting job from Meester. When asked about winning the starting job this year, Norman said "Every year you try to come in and start. That is just my ultimate goal so unfortunately it had to happen this way, but I am just glad to have the opportunity."
Norman also said that he's been working at both guard and center before Meester's injury. When asked if his expanded role will change his preparation, Norman replied, "not really. Whenever I get in and get a rep, I'm trying to put my best foot forward. So I am going to continue to do the same."
As we stated before, there is no such thing as a good injury. But if the Jaguars had to suffer an injury, this one isn't horrible, and they have a very capable fill-in with Dennis Norman.
No Meester, No Problem
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