Steamrolling its way through northeast Florida, the summer heat wave brings along the Jacksonville Jaguars offseason with mini camps.
June through August, the Jaguars coaching staff will be diligently pruning its roster back with August 31st in sight as the deadline for the final 53-man roster.
Mini Camps have become somewhat of a fan favorite for the Jaguars fan base and it showed when they opened an un-padded practice this past Thursday, June 13th.
As Jags fans sweat it out in temperatures reaching the high 90’s, one thing was made abundantly clear amongst the humidity; there’s competition at every single position.
Defense: Off the edge
Historically, the Jaguars have run a 4-3 defense, with four down linemen and three linebackers which is typical amongst most NFL teams.
This year, however, Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich will be adding a few new twists to the defense, mixing in a 3-4 approach with a designated “Leo” end position. Bradley summed up this position as an outside linebacker whose job is to maintain the edge, yet provide exceptional pass rushing skills.
Second year defensive end Andre Branch could be one of the most pivotal pieces of the Jaguars defensive success or failure in the 2013-14 season, as the 2nd round pick out of Clemson looks to excel in the new Leo position.
Entering his 10th season, Jason Babin’s late career luster had seemed to dull last season until he joined the Jaguars after his release by the Eagles. With a scheme change and a position that would seem to serve Babin’s body type well, the veteran may provide more than just leadership on this year’s defensive unit.
Many believed Tyson Alualu was better suited at the defensive end position coming out of Cal four years ago, but then head coach Jack Del Rio kept the undersized rookie at defensive tackle. In Babich’s defense, Alualu will be strictly played at the defensive end spot, where he should be able to generate more of a pass rush than in years past.
If you’re left wondering where six-year vet and fan favorite Jeremy Mincey fits into this equation, you’re not alone.
Mincey will most likely look to fit in at the end position on a situational basis, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they moved him inside on certain looks. The one thing that may be saving Mincey’s job right now is the $27.2 million contract he signed in March of last year.
4th year defensive end Brandon Deaderick leads a group of about six rookie to second year players looking to claw their way on to the Jaguars roster this summer.
Projected Starters: Tyson Alualu and Jason Babin
Next time, we will break down and talk about just what exactly coach Bradley expects from his defensive tackles.[image source]