TAMPA FL - AUGUST 28: Center Brad Meester #63 of the Jacksonville Jaguars points out the defense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 28 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive guard Kynan Forney was given the night off and has seemingly locked up his roster spot. Center Brad Meester played a series, and then went to the bench while back up center and starting guard Uche Nwaneri took reps at the center position.
In my opinion, one player played himself into a starting role and the other might have played himself off the roster.Justin Smiley came out and played left guard once Nwaneri moved to the center position. Smiley struggled quite a bit in pass protection and specifically on a screen pass to back up running back Rashad Jennings. Smiley was out in front of Jennings and missed a block on the final defender. If Smiley picks up the block, it's likely Jennings takes the screen for a long touchdown reception.
Quite a bit of the pressure on David Garrard also came from the left side, but it wasn't from tackle Eugene Monroe. Smiley looked rusty out there, and deservedly so considering all the time he's missed with injuries and the fact that this was only his second pre-season game with the Jaguars this year.
One player who didn't struggle however, was right guard Vince Manuwai. Manuwai didn't look like the 2007 version of the guard, who played at an All-Pro level, but he was good enough. Manuwai held up on the right side in pass protection, even picking up some defenders that Eben Britton struggled to control. The most noticeable play Manuwai was involved in was a running play, in which he drug back up fullback Brock Bolen a few yards down the field to insure a first down.
I've felt since the pads went on, Manuwai has played noticeably better than Forney or Smiley, but it seemed as if the coaching staff wanted to keep a fire under Vinny and have him earn his starting position. There has been a lot of talk that you cannot keep $3.5 million on the bench and Manuwai could be a salary casualty, but with his play last night, I feel like he shored up his starting position.
The big question now will be, if people were concerned Manuwai would be released if he didn't win the starting job... what happens to Justin Smiley? Smiley's current deal pays him $2.5 million this season and the Jaguars traded a conditional 7th round pick. If $3.5 million was too much to keep on the bench, I find it hard to believe $2.5 million and a draft pick don't fall under the same category.
If I were the Jaguars, I would eat the salary regardless and keep both. I explained this previously however, so I won't rehash it.
Simply put, I think Vince Manuwai won back the starting guard position last night and the starting offensive line should be what it was to start the game last night.