Many of the questions for the Jaguars heading into training camp concerned the offensive line. How much would Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton progress from Year One to Year Two? Would Brad Meester and Vince Manuwai rebound from terrible 2009 campaigns? Would the additions of Kynan Forney and Justin Smiley be enough to help stabilize the interior of the line? Could Uche Nwaneri provide enough at the center position? How these questions got answered would be a major influence if the Jags could become a playoff team in 2010. The answers so far? Meh.
1. How much would Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton progress from Year One to Year Two?
As far as Eugene Monroe in concerned, it seems clear that he's continuing on the upward trend he started in the latter part of last season. He's come into camp in great shape and dedicated. He has been holding his own vs Aaron Kampman for the most part and been able to stone practically everyone else. The fact that Aaron Kampman has been able to do as much in training camp as he has will only help Monroe out more. Going against a top pass rusher everyday in camp will pay dividends when he has to go against Dwight Freeney and Mario Williams. I was disappointed Monroe was matched up against Larry Hart during the Oklahoma Drills. Monroe swallowed Hart whole on both attempts. It would've been much more exciting to see him go against Kampman or Derrick Harvey.
As far as Eben Britton is concerned, it's been an entirely different situation. While the talking heads kept saying he was playing better than Monroe last year, sites like Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus gave us a much different picture. Derrick Harvey and Larry Hart have been consistently beating Eben like a drum during camp. Honestly, if it wasn't for the sheer lack of options at RT I would say that there was a good chance of Britton being moved to guard.
2. Would Brad Meester and Vince Manuwai rebound from terrible 2009 campaigns?
Brad Meester was a rock of consistency for the Jaguars from 2000-2008, but in 2009 his body began to betray him. His mind knew which assignments to call out, but his body could simply no longer execute to the level it once did. So far in camp Meester has still been practicing with the first team for the most part. There has been nothing particularly good or bad to say about Meester right now. He's occasionally been swapped out for the likes of Uche Nwaneri and Cecil Newton, but I'll get to that cavalcade of mediocrity later on.
Vince Manuwai has also made some gains during the offseason. Besides from Monroe, I think he's been having the best camp of the linemen so far. It seems clear that he's more trusting of his knee than he was last year. If he can get close to where he was from 05-07, it'll help the line tremendously. I can't wait to see him have his own Oklahoma drill with Tyson Alualu.
3. Would the additions of Kynan Forney and Justin Smiley help the interior of the line?
Kynan Forney has been involved with the first team on some occasions, most notably when Uche Nwaneri is moved to center. However, there have been so few opportunities to get a good look that it's impossible to say how things are going with him.
As for Justin Smiley, his best friend during camp so far has been a bag of ice on his shoulder. As another poster said, I can only hope that it's preventative maintenance on the Jaguars part.
4. What would Uche Nwaneri have to offer at the center position?
Heading into camp, many felt that moving Uche to center and having either Forney or Smiley at guard would help alleviate the Jaguars line issues. Never mind the issues the latter two are having, neither Uche or Cecil Newton have done much to warrant confidence as the starting center.
Uche doesn't have Meester's mastery of reading a defense, nor has he done an adequate job blocking. In the few times he has been at center, it's been a point of attack for the defense. Uche was always a liability vs the run last year and it is showing in the limited tries he has had at center.
As for Cecil Newton, the Saturday PM camp recaps tell his story. A high school center could've done a better job at some low points.
Overall, with only one padded practice in the books, there is plenty of time to right the ship. However, the current state of the line is a cause for concern and will need to be addressed.