The Jacksonville showers are beginning to wash away the Florida spring, which can only mean one thing -- phase three of the Jaguars' offseason program is upon us.
As the Jaguars prepare for another phase of non-contact practices, storylines will soon begin accumulate like those afternoon rain clouds. Here's one narrative each Big Cat Country writer is watching during OTAs:
Dante Fowler. There's a lot of pressure being put on him, some of it fairly and some of it unfairly. But he'll be looked to as the No. 1 remedy for an awful pass rush among a nearly completely retooled defensive line. It'll be interesting to see how quickly he catches on and if he can kickstart his development. Even though he was injured all of last year, did being around the team help at all... or is Fowler a rookie for all intents and purposes? I think Fowler is the most important player on defense this year and his growth will be the biggest factor in how well the Jaguars pass rush (and overall defense) does overall.
I'm interested to see how the front four of the defense starts to shake up. There wasn't any worse position group on the entire porous Jaguars defense than the Jaguars defensive line on third downs last season. They hope to remedy that this year with the additions of Dante Fowler coming off his rookie injury, Malik Jackson as a big free agent splash, and a hope that Sen'Derrick Marks recovers from two straight season-ending injuries. They also invested in three pass rushers with draft picks in Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day, and Tyrone Holmes. Throw in Jared Oderick and Ryan Davis and you have a ton of moving parts. Me personally, I still think getting pass rush off the edge is going to be a big problem this season, so Fowler and his defensive end counterparts specifically will be interesting to watch from this point on.
Marqise Lee was able to keep himself on the field for the Jaguars' final eight games in 2015 -- quite an inspiring run for the injury-cursed receiver. Since being drafted in 2014, Lee has been unable trade his fragile image for a legitimate role within the Jaguars offense. If Lee's goal is to make an actual impact in his third season, he first has to put together a healthy offseason for the first time in his career. Undrafted rookie Allen Hurns stole the spotlight in 2014 OTAs, and Allen Robinson's comeback was the top topic in 2015 OTAs. In 2016, Marqise Lee needs to steal the show.
Since everyone is thinking defense, I'll take a different direction and go with the offensive line. Although OTAs are non padded practices where the offensive line can't do too much, it'll be interesting to see how Mackenzie Bernadeau meshes with rest of the line while starting at left guard. Also, keep your eyes on Brandon Linder, as he is returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for almost the entire 2015 season. Linder's transition from guard to center is also very important to watch out for, as it will be essential for him and quarterback Blake Bortles to build chemistry.
A.J. Cann's progression as he enters his second year in the league is huge, as the team is banking on him to build on the promise he showed at right guard in 2015. Oh, and who could forget about the competition at left tackle between Kelvin Beachum and Luke Joeckel?
Editor's Note: Alfie is on vacation and he's not thinking about the Jaguars because he loves himself and his family.
What storyline are you following during OTAs?