The first week of training camp is in the books, concluding with Friday night's scrimmage at EverBank Field. Earlier in the week, Brian Sexton, Jeff Lageman, and Vic Ketchman discussed the Oklahoma drills, what to expect from the offensive line, and the unfolding battle at wide receiver on Jaguars This Week.
The show kicked off with a discussion of the much-anticipated Oklahoma drills. The results of the Hawaiian showdown between Vince Manuwai and Tyson Alualu may not be clear, but Ketchman was quick to praise Alualu’s performance in the drill: “What impressed me about Tyson is that he had the strength against a powerful, powerful guard to shed his blocks.”
Ketchman also noted that he felt performances in the Oklahoma drills were indicative of where certain players are at this point in their careers and what they'll be able to contribute to the team this season. “(Eugene) Monroe is dominant. (Derrick) Harvey is on the rise. And Larry Hart…he’s going to need some strength and some seasoning before he can be an every-downs player.”
One of the most interesting performances in training camp to date has come from Derrick Harvey. Incredibly disappointing throughout the first two years of his career, Harvey has reportedly made great strides this offseason. “Night and day,” Ketchman said. “He’s a different player. I’m seeing technique in him I hadn’t seen previously. That’s for sure because he was not a technique guy. I’m seeing quickness in him. I’m seeing a spark in him. At times, he has looked like the dominant player you would expect from the eighth pick of the draft.” While no one is ready to heap undo praise onto Harvey, it’s refreshing to see signs of life from the former first rounder.
Sexton, Lageman, and Ketchman switched their focus from defensive line to offensive line later in the program, discussing the roles that certain veterans may have with the team.
“I kind of get the feeling that Forney is the leader at left guard,” Ketchman said. “And I kind of get the feeling that Vince (Manuwai) is going to be pushed to make the team. I can’t concede his starting job yet.”
“They want to light a fire under Vince so he can play to his potential because if he plays to his potential, Vince is a Pro Bowl caliber guard. Vince is the most dominant run blocker at the right guard…maybe in the game,” Sexton added.
Ketchman, however, believes that either Vince Manuwai or Brad Meester will find himself on the outside looking in. “I think one of these two guys, Meester or Manuwai, is going to be out of here because they’re the guys who’ve got the salaries.” But not everyone was quick to agree. Lageman believes that, not only will Manuwai and Meester be on the final roster, but they will both be starters.
But does anybody truly have an advantage at this point in training camp?
“I think Forney has a leg up because I don’t think they trust Smiley’s shoulder yet. But if he shows that he’s healthy and he’s ready to go, Justin Smiley’s a better player, maybe,” Sexton said.
As for the right side, Sexton also believes in Vince Manuwai’s abilities. “Vince does things that nobody else can do. He’s the only guard that I have ever seen that has been able to handle Albert Haynesworth when Albert Haynesworth was just killing people. Nobody else could handle him. If he plays that level, he’s your best guard.”
Ketchman, Sexton, and Lageman believe that the wide receiver position is starting to shake itself out as training camp progresses. As of now, Ketchman thinks that Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas will be the starting two, but Lageman had this to say:
"(Williamson) had some good plays. Last night, I really watched him. He had a good night. He had a really pretty, deep ball from David. On my roster, I've got him starting. Not Mike Thomas."
Tiquan Underwood, Ketchman's MVP of OTAs, "makes all the tough catches but drops all the easy ones. He's a guy who catches the ball outside the framework of his body better than he does when the ball is thrown right at his chest. He doesn't have the hands. His hands aren't good enough to challenge for anything more than just a roster spot. Kassim Osgood is just the opposite."
Both Ketchman and Lageman were in agreement on their assessment of Osgood, with Lageman noting that "if Osgood had hands...oh, man. He runs, I mean, he can run, he's big, he's smart, he's tough. He just...he doesn't catch."
With battles in full swing at multiple positions, the next few weeks are bound to get more interesting as the Jaguars gear up for 2010.<!--EndFragment--> <!--EndFragment-->