The Jaguars are hoping to get play out of David Garrard that more closely represents his 2007 campaign rather than 2008. Garrard is playing for his job this season, as the Jaguars may draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2010 draft assuming he doesn't correct his mistakes.
The Colts have one of the best regular season quarterbacks in the history of the game in Peyton Manning, who seemingly never misses a game. Manning directs the Colts offense with fluidity, and has for years.
Enormous edge: Colts
The Jaguars have turned the backfield over to Maurice Jones-Drew, as the dynamic playmaker will no longer have to share the load with the departed Fred Taylor. Behind Jones-Drew, the Jaguars have seventh-round pick Rashad Jennings, fullback Greg Jones, and Chauncey Washington.
The Colts running game is underrated as they have former Pro Bowler Joseph Addai as well as first-round pick Donald Brown in the backfield. With some changes in the coaching staff as well as a young offensive line, this could be the year that Indianapolis really leans on the running game.
The Jaguars revamped their wide receiving corps by letting go four of their top producers from a year ago. They're replaced them with veteran Torry Holt, and rookies Jarett Dillard, Mike Thomas and Tiquan Underwood. The only holdovers from last season are the talented, but oft-injured Mike Walker and Troy Williamson.
Indianapolis has always had a top-notch wide receiving corps, and this will be the first time since 1996 that the team has gone to camp without Marvin Harrison. Will it matter? Not likely. The Colts have perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne to go along with Anthony Gonzalez, and if they get anything from Roy Hall or Austin Collie, the Indy receivers could be better than ever.
Big edge: Colts
Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter vowed to get Marcedes Lewis more involved in the passing game, and the team needs greater production from that position. Aside from the dominant blocking Lewis, the Jaguars are depending on rookie Zach Miller and Greg Estandia.
The Colts have perhaps the best tight end in the game never to make a Pro Bowl in Dallas Clark, who is an impossible matchup with his size, speed, and agility. Gijon Robinson, Jacob Tamme, and Tom Santi could all contribute as well behind Clark
Big edge: Colts
The Jaguars spent much of the offseason with the focus on repairing a very damaged offensive line from a season ago. Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton may both be opening day starters as rookies, and the team is returning Vince Manuwai from injury. The offensive line should be a strength in 2009.
The Colts have made it a point over the last two years stockpiling young talent on their offensive line, and they performed well in 2008 despite there being many changes. Jeff Saturday still anchors the middle with Tony Ugoh at left tackle protecting Peyton Manning's blind side. Add in veteran Ryan Diem and rookie Jaimie Thomas, and Indy has depth at tackle.
Slight edge: Jaguars
The Jaguars have some questions on the defensive line as they will be counting on greater production from last year's first-day picks, Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. Throw in a seemingly healthy Reggie Hayward and the team has more questions than answers at defensive end. On the interior there are just as many questions as John Henderson appears to be on the decline and the team will be depending on rookie Terrence Knighton and a bigger Derek Landri.
Indianapolis has always had smaller, lightning fast defensive ends, and it has paid off, especially at home on the fast track of Lucas Oil Stadium. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are amongst the best bookends in the league, and Raheem Brock supplies solid depth. Indy has some questions in the middle as Ed Johnson and Keyunta Dawson are less than stellar. The Colts will be depending on rookies Fili Moala and Terrance Taylor to make an impact.
The Jaguars linebackers may be the best position group on the team, and certainly on the defense. Justin Durant will now play the middle, as Daryl Smith will stay outside opposite Clint Ingram. Those three starters are solid, and Durant has the ability to be spectacular. Thomas Williams and Brian Iwuh will likely be forced to play if one of the starters goes down.
The Colts have always been able to let veterans go and plug in young players at linebacker and not have much of a drop-off in production. Gary Brackett anchors the unit in the middle, and Freddy Keiaho, Tyjuan Hagler, Phillip Wheeler and Clint Session will likely battle for playing time on the outside.
The Jaguars corners should be solid as Rashean Mathis had a solid 2008 campaign. Brian Williams and rookie Derek Cox will be fighting for the starting job opposite Mathis. Whichever corner doesn't start will likely compete for the nickel spot with Scott Starks.
Indianapolis actually spent money this offseason on the cornerback position as they gave Kelvin Hayden a rich new deal. Playing opposite Hayden will likely be former first-round pick Marlin Jackson, and the likely slot man will be Tim Jennings.
The Jaguars have oodles of questions at the safety positions as former first-round pick Reggie Nelson regressed last year, and the team let Gerald Sensabaugh walk in free agency. Free agent acquisition Sean Considine has the inside track on the strong safety job, and the newly acquired Gerald Alexander will compete with Nelson for the starting job at free.
The Colts may have the best safety in the NFL when healthy in Bob Sanders, who loves to take running back's heads off. Sanders is also great against the pass. Playing opposite Sanders will likely by Antoine Bethea, who has a knack for making big plays. Melvin Bullitt and Jamie Silva provide excellent depth.
Enormous edge: Colts
The Jaguars should have a solid special teams unit with strong-legged kicker Josh Scobee, and punter Adam Podlesh (or Steve Weatherford). The return team will likely feature rookies Mike Thomas or Derek Cox, as well as second-year speedster Brian Witherspoon.
Indianapolis features legendary kicker Adam Vinatieri, who is on the down-side of his career, but is still accurate inside of 40 yards. The team will likely go with a rookie punter as West Virginia's Pat McAfee and Kentucky's Tim Masthay will battle it out during camp. The Colts could use numerous players for kick return duties as rookie Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Roy Hall, and T.J. Rushing could all figure in.
Division Matchups: Jaguars / Colts
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