The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without Luke Joeckel ever since the former first-round pick injured just about everything you could in your knee. In his place is little-known journeyman lineman Patrick Omameh who’s on his fourth team and has played less than two seasons worth of games since entering the league in 2013.
Omameh signed with the Jaguars in June, well after the free agency fanfare. He was a training camp body through and through, but he’s actually impressed through preseason and the first four games, earning a backup spot on the line and the confidence of quarterback Blake Bortles.
“I think it gives Pat [Omameh] a chance to step up and go play,” Blake Bortles said after practice on Wednesday. “I thought he did some good things when he came in last week in London, did some really good stuff. So I have all the confidence in the world in him and then obviously he got an extra week to watch film and prepare and get ready because he’s kind of been bouncing around position-wise.”
But is Bortles just blowing smoke up our collective asses? These are just the things he’s supposed to say, right?
Well, yes. But Omameh was actually very good in relief of Joeckel against the Indianapolis Colts and there shouldn’t be a drop-off in production because he’s in there. In fact, the running game could actually get better.
First and foremost, Omameh is a bully, which is exactly what you want in your interior guys. Hell, it’s what you want in all of them, but it’s damn near a prerequisite for centers and guards.
And he’s not just a physical guy. Omameh was asked several times in his nearly three quarters of play against the Colts to pull to the other side of the line or get to the second level. And he does it well, mixing strength with athleticism and getting Chris Ivory a couple of extra yards in return.
Really, Omameh’s only struggle in game action was pass protection. More than once, he lost the initial contact battle and had to re-anchor his feet. He was able to do so each time, not giving up a sack all game, but I’m sure it will be a point of emphasis for opposing defenses moving forward.
The below pass is probably his worst against the Colts. In most other cases, he was able to stay upright and hold his block, even if he was pushed back a couple of yards.
All in all, Omameh is better than expected at left guard. Joeckel going down is disappointing because he was on pace for a decent year and his confidence was surely high after taking on another position and doing well at it. But for the sake of the Jaguars offense, Omameh doesn’t look like he’ll be a weak link.