clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Cat Country Q&A: Who will be the surprise player of training camp?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-Training Camp Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s answer some questions now that Jacksonville Jaguars training camp has started up!

Mark from Monmouth, NJ

Q: Why did the Jaguars sign D.J. Hayden to a contract so much higher than his market value, and is there anyone on the roster who could surpass him as the staring nickel corner?

A: First, about his market value, Dave Caldwell and John Idzik (the team’s salary cap consultant) are not wild spenders. I trust their opinion on what “market value” is for most players, especially on the defensive side of the ball. And nickel cornerbacks are important — Aaron Colvin was in on 700 defensive snaps last year, just over 67 percent of all snaps. That’s good for 10th most on the team. It’s no slouch position, it’s a legitimate starting spot in a pass-happy league. As far as anyone else to surpass him, I don’t think so. Cornerback depth is thin after the top three.

Lenny Fournette from Jacksonville, FL

Q: How many carries should I see this preseason?

A: Is there a number less than zero? In all seriousness, only as many as it takes to feel good behind newly signed Andrew Norwell (and vice versa). If he has 5-6 carries per game and sits out Week 4, fine by me.

Sam from St. Augustine, FL

Q: Will players be signing autographs following practice?

A: And before it looks like from Twitter — at least Blake Bortles.

David from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Q: Do you feel Leonard Fournette’s running style will change based on his recent weight loss?

A: I don’t. Players don’t just change things as dramatic as their running style or the way they approach playing their position. They make tweaks and improve where they are weak — but the wholesale changes you’re talking about just won’t happen. I think his weight loss means he’ll be doing the things he did last year faster, with more agility, and with less of a chance of injury.

Tyson from Tacoma, WA

Q: How much of Corey Grant do you think we will see in training camp and preseason games? Think he ends up No. 2 behind Leonard Fournette come regular season?

A: I think the coaching staff has a very particular role for Grant for very specific situations, so I don’t think we’ll see a ton of him in practice or preseason. I think once the regular season rolls around, we’ll see him more, but it’s T.J. Yeldon firmly in the No. 2 spot right now.

Alex from Austin, TX

Q: If you have to pick one, who will be the surprise player of camp?

A: Dede Westbrook.

Rick from Des Moines, IA

Q: Do you think our defense will be as good this year or better from last year?

A: Better, specifically against the run early in the season and rushing the passer late in the season.

Caleb from Gilbert, AZ

Q: If Blake Bortles only plays about as well as he did last year and the Jaguars don’t make the Super Bowl, is this his last year in Jacksonville?

A: No, but it’s his last year as the unquestioned starter.

Clay from Duval, FL

Q: Doug Marrone talks about quarters and winning them and out the gate we have three home games. What does the team need to do in the first four games to set themselves up for a No. 1 seed run?

A: They need to go 4-0. If they don’t, the New England Patriots will.

Travis from Waterloo, IA

Q: What are the odds of Allen Lazard making the roster? Is he better off as a practice roster guy that we use barring injury? He seems like he would be a nice “under the radar” weapon — especially in the red zone where Blake Bortles needs a target.

A: Lazard is gifted in his size so I think he’s scooped up by another team if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster. This receiving corps would be tough to break into — Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark, and Keelan Cole are the unquestioned top five. Jaydon Mickens showed he can fill in at receiver and returner so that’s valuable. And Rashad Greene, while largely untested, has stuck around this long for a reason. I think it’s a battle between Lazard and Mickens for that sixth receiver spot.