Jacksonville Jaguars offensive guard Vince Manuwai has been a consistent piece of the Jaguars offensive line since he was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2003 NFL draft. Manuwai has started every season with the Jaguars at left guard, sans the 2008 season when he tore his ACL in the first game of the season. That injury it seems, has begun the decline of Manuwai's reliability the past two seasons.
Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars traded a 7th round pick to the Miami Dolphins for offensive guard Justin Smiley, as an insurance policy for Manuwai who began to struggle in the 2009 season. Manuwai didn't seem his usual self, and wasn't completely healed from his torn ACL in 2009. It made matters worse at the start of the 2010 training camp when Manuwai showed up out of shape and with a back injury that kept him out of practice. He started the 2010 season as the back-up, but was reinserted into the lineup when Justin Smiley hurt his ankle, but truth be told Smiley was struggling at the left guard position even before that.
Fast forward to 2011 training camp, and Manuwai once again showed up out of shape and overweight. This time, Manuwai cited an injury to the ball of his foot, which prevents him from running. Understandibly, it's tough to be at your target weight (about 330 pound) without the ability to run. "Vinny's not even close, I mean he's not even close to being ready," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters on Thursday.
"Foot, ankle. He's just in no position to be competing on the football field," Del Rio said of Manuwai's condition. Del Rio added, "He hasn't passed the physical and he's just in poor condition."
We got word last night leaving training camp that the Jaguars had come to terms with free agent offensive lineman Jason Spitz. Spitz is expected to sign a 3-year, incentive-laden contract pending passing a physical. I have a feeling that the Jaguars are going to give Spitz every chance to win the starting left guard position outright, which shouldn't be that difficult given the condition on Vince Manuwai. I'm not sure the Jaguars are going to cut Manuwai like most thought they would last season, but this year I think the possibility of it is real. Manuwai is in the final year of his contract and is due $2.9 million in salary. Depening on how long it takes Manuwai to get into playing shape are recover from his foot/ankle injury, that's a lot of salary to carry for a back up guard, especially when you've got a rookie waiting in the wings.
When Manuwai is on the field and healthy, he's one of the better run blocking guards in the NFL and has been a key to the Jaguars rushing attack. Unfortunately for Manuwai however, he's had trouble being in shape and healthy the past two off-seasons. Having Manuwai on the field and Jason Spitz as a 3 position back up on the interior line with rookie Will Rackley for more depth would be nice, but it all depends on how quickly Manuwai can get himself back on the field.... or off the roster.