That's right, I've got twenty MAJOR storylines for you to follow as the Jaguars' kickoff their 2019 training camp.
We've got a lot to discuss. SO, LET'S GET TO IT!
1. Yannick Ngakoue's contract holdout
Yannick Ngakoue wants a new contract. The Jaguars offered Yannick Ngakoue a short term contract (probably three years) on Tuesday worth just over $19 million with $50-plus million guaranteed. The Jaguars will need to up the guaranteed value and the years to get in the right ballpark. Ngakoue can be fined up to $40k for every day he misses. On top of that, to become an unrestricted free agent and test the market following the 2019 season, Yan must report to the Jaguars by August 5th. If he's not in Jax by that day, he'll risk not accruing his fourth season in the league. That means if the Jaguars and Ngakoue can't form a new contract, then Ngakoue will be a RESTRICTED free agent following the 2019 season and will not control his future. I find it hard to believe that Yannick would risk that, so I expect him to be in camp by August 5th, with or without a new contract.
2. Cam Robinson's recovery
Cam Robinson is currently on the active/PUP list, which means he's not ready to practice just yet. But he is eligible to begin practicing as soon as he gets medically cleared. Robinson suffered an ACL tear in the second game of the 2018 regular season and hasn't been able to play football since. The sooner he can get back on the field, the better his odds of having a successful third season in the league. The Jaguars need him on the field, protecting Foles' blindside.
3. Marqise Lee's recovery
Marqise Lee sustained a devastating knee injury in week three of the 2018 preseason and was forced to miss all of 2018. He's been running and getting ready to return, but like Cam Robinson, Lee will start training camp on the active/PUP list. Jaguars' WR Coach Keenan McCardell hinted earlier this spring that he believes Lee will begin practicing a couple of weeks into training camp.
4. RyQuell Armstead's hamstring
During OTAs, rookie running back RyQuell Armstead tweaked his hamstring. The injury kept him out of mandatory minicamp and has landed Armstead on the active/PUP list to start training camp. Hamstring injuries are known to linger, so there's no telling how long Armstead might be sidelined. The Jaguars would be wise not to rush the violent young rusher back on to the field.
5. Josh Allen running with the ones?
With Yannick Ngakoue nowhere to be found, Josh Allen will receive the benefit of added reps and responsibility early on in camp. He figures to get some run with the starters, in which case we'll get an early idea of how ready Allen is to contribute in the sack department in year one.
6. Nick Foles' leadership
Foles is a natural-born leader, just ask anyone who's ever played with the Jaguars' starting QB. He should be a coach on the field this summer, getting players lined up and showing the receivers how he wants routes to be run. It'll be a far cry from what fans on the Jaguars have seen in recent years. Enjoy.
7. The receivers ability to get open
With Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye and company in the secondary, will the Jaguars' receivers be able to get open? If they can hold their own and trade punches (not literally) with the Jaguars' secondary, that will be an encouraging sign for the passing offense.
8. Can the receivers hang on to the ball?
The Jaguars' wideouts have got to show that they can hang on to the ball consistently. Keelan Cole, Chris Conley, Terrelle Pryor, and even DJ Chark in his lone year in the NFL, have not always been able to catch the ball with regularity. Hopefully, Nick Foles' crisp delivery will help the WRs in that department.
9. How does Leonard Fournette look?
Does Fournette look slim and trim and ready to light the league on fire in year three? He needs to grasp the playbook and be able to have success running from the shotgun, something he's struggled with in the past. Catching the ball out of the backfield should come easy for Fournette, who's proven his worth as a receiver over the last two seasons.
10. Does Jawaan Taylor look like a starter?
Like it or not, the Jaguars' second-round pick out of Florida is probably going to wind up in the starting lineup week one against the Chiefs. Does he appear ready to take on that challenge? Is he prepared for the intensity of the NFL?
11. The same question applies for Quincy Williams.
Rookie weakside linebacker Quincy Williams was the talk of Friday night of the draft, mostly because no one had ever heard of the kid. Now, with Telvin Smith not playing in 2019, Williams will likely be asked to start. Weakside linebacker is a position in which a lot of young players can excel. It's not the most complicated position in a 4-3 defense. Still, the jump from Murray State to the NFL shouldn't be understated. Williams has all the physical tools to be a star.
12. Josh Oliver has had a lot thrown at him this summer.
Another rookie from a small school, tight end Josh Oliver is tasked with lining up on the line of scrimmage, in the slot, and in the backfield. If he can quickly grasp his responsibilities and prove not to be a liability as a blocker, Oliver could have a big impact sooner rather than later. He should be able to stretch the seam down the middle of the field — with his excellent athleticism, size and catch radius — from day one.
13. Do Cedric Ogbuehi/Josh Wells look competent?
Josh Wells and Cedric Ogbuehi will likely fill in for Cam Robinson while he's on the mend. Does either player look competent? Ogbuehi was a first-round pick in Cincinnati, but the Bengals were happy to let him walk this offseason. Josh Wells is a career swing tackle who struggled a bit in 2018. One of those guys may need to start to begin the regular season.
14. Is Gardner Minshew ready to be the second string QB?
Minshew, the sixth-round draft pick, is the most likely candidate to earn the Jaguars' backup QB job. But as a rookie from the Pac-12, is he ready for the responsibility? Minshew will be competing with Alex McGough and Tanner Lee for the gig throughout training camp. If he doesn't look significantly better than both of those second-year QBs, I'll be skeptical of his ability to keep the ship afloat, should Nick Foles be forced to miss any time.
15. Do Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison have what it takes to elevate the defense?
There's little question in my mind that Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison can be competent starting safeties in between Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. But my question is, can they elevate the defense? Barry Church was a liability in his final season with the team, and Tashaun Gipson was far from his best. Can these two be better than that tandem was last year? Can they help get the defense back to their 2017 form?
16. Is Marcell Dareus the starting 3-tech?
Marcell Dareus will start at defensive tackle for the Jaguars? But where? He seems a likely candidate to start at 3-tech, a position that's designed to create interior pressure. If that's where Dareus is lining up, then he could be in line for a big leap in pass production this season. That would also mean that second-year defensive lineman Taven Bryan won't enter the starting lineup in 2019.
17. Speaking of Taven Bryan...
Has he taken a step entering his second season? The 2018 first-round pick was a let down in 2018. The blame doesn't fall on just him, though. The Jaguars played him out of position at the big end for much of last season. If he's allowed to primarily play on the interior in 2019, he should enjoy better results.
18. Who's getting the most reps at kick return?
My guess is DJ Chark will be the starting kick returner for the Jags. During his rookie season, he displayed the ability to get it done as the KR. But there are several players on the roster who have shown they can man the position in the past.
19. Who's getting the most reps at punt return?
My hope is that Dede Westbrook is the full-time punt returner. He's a natural and gives the Jaguars a spark more often than not. I wouldn't blame the Jaguars, however, if they chose only to use Westbrook as the punt returner in key situations, instead opting to have him focused on being the best WR he can be. If that's the case, it's unclear who will earn the job. Keep an eye out during training camp.
20. Injury Avoidance
You hate to see it. But every year players go down in training camp and the preseason. Last year the Jaguars lost Marqise Lee before the regular season even started. The hope this year is that the Jaguars can avoid significant injuries to anyone in the starting lineup.
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