August 23, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Referees separate Jacksonville Jaguars players and Baltimore Ravens players after the play had ended at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE
In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Jaguars selected offensive lineman Will Rackley with their third round pick, the first selection made after taking Blaine Gabbert in the first round. Nearly three months later, the Jaguars agreed to terms with undrafted rookie lineman Cameron Bradfield.
Both made the team as rookies and both started games during the 2011 season as rookies, although Rackley's was on a full-time basis and Bradfield's was as an emergency replacement for an injured Eugene Monroe. But objectively, it's not difficult to argue that Bradfield was more impressive as a rookie and that Rackley earned the starting role due to his high draft position.
Now entering their second seasons with the Jaguars, it appears that the undrafted rookie will be the one with a starting role while Rackley may have to serve as a backup in 2012.
When Rackley went down with an injury early in the preseason, right tackle Eben Britton filled the void and Bradfield was pushed into the starting lineup on the right side of the line. It worked.
"Right there's always more work to be done," Bradfield said. "But I think for the most part we've done a pretty decent job of making stops in our blocks and staying on guys and protecting and having a nice pocket for Blaine (Gabbert) back there."
With Bradfield in the lineup, Britton has done very well on the interior of the line and the coaches don't seem to be in any rush to move him back to tackle. In fact, it's possible the 2009 second round pick might have a permanent spot on the interior.
And with Britton on the interior for the long-term, it seems to be Bradfield's right tackle spot to lose, regardless of Rackley's recovery from injury which may hold the guard out from Thursday's game as well.
"Very anxious," Bradfield said of the upcoming regular season. "We got this last preseason game coming up so I want to do really well in that but I'm really anxious to get out here and get this regular season going."