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Jacksonville Jaguars

3 Things to watch as Jaguars open training camp

Josh Ciganek



Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

The Jacksonville Jaguars opened training camp Thursday morning to the veterans, as they join the rookies who reported nearly a week ago. Heading into camp, there are a few questions looming around the practice fields. What is to come from Blake Bortles this season? Will Leonard Fournette share playing time in the backfield? How will the veteran acquisitions from this offseason impact this young defense?

The biggest question mark circulating Jacksonville is the status of Bortles’ future with the team. Expectations were high when he was selected with the third overall pick in 2014. However, things got off to a slow start for Bortles and the Jags as they have only won 11 games with Bortles under center.

This season is now make-or-break for Bortles after the Jags picked up his fifth-year option this offseason, meaning he will be under contract until 2018. With a sub-60 completion percentage and sub-80 passer rating in his career, there is certainly speculation as to if Bortles is worth keeping around until then. Yet, head coach Doug Marrone is optimistic about Bortles’ improvement. He spent the offseason working with quarterback gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeux. He has plenty of weapons to throw the ball to and the acquisition of Fournette should solidify the running game.

Speaking of Fournette, there is speculation surrounding if Jacksonville will run with a feature-back formation or if it will be a shared system. The Jags took Fournette with the fourth overall pick in this years draft after ranking 22nd in total rushing yards with T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory sharing the workload. Both Yeldon and Ivory are still under contract with Jacksonville which is why the possibility of splitting the workload with Fournette is still possible.

While at LSU, Fournette shared his playing time in all three seasons so he is accustomed to earning his time on the field. His freshman year he earned playing time behind starter Terrence Magee and then split carries with Derrius Guice in both 2015 and 2016. However, with Ivory moving into the back half of his career at age 29, he may not be as big of a factor for Fournette. As the competition will begin during training camp, Fournette will need to show why he was a Heisman candidate if he wants to earn the starting role.
The final thing to watch during training camp will be how the defense begins to work together. There were multiple veteran signees that joined Jacksonville this offseason, including Calais Campbell, A.J. Buoye and Barry Church. These pieces add to a defense that is stacked with young talent at its core lead by Dante Fowler, Myles Jack, and Jalen Ramsey. We have seen already that this defense has the potential to be great for many years to come.

When looking at the defensive line, adding Campbell now makes the D-line one of the most ferocious in the NFL. A healthy Fowler working on the end with Campbell as well as Malik Jackson working the interior, this will make for a quarterback’s nightmare. Having the stout line backing group of Jack, Paul Posluszny, and Telvin Smith bolsters up the front seven and provides a cushion for the secondary.

Buoye can bring his five years of experience to the secondary and groom Ramsey into the top tier cornerback that he has the potential for. Church will add veteran knowledge as he plays alongside Tashaun Gipson at the safety position. These veterans will now inherit a large amount of responsibility in preparing this young Jags defense for the future.

Jacksonville has a lot of young talent that will look to improve on their 3-13 record from last season under new head coach Marrone. This is only the start of a bright future for the Jaguars.

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Why is Jalen Ramsey Twitter feuding with NFL Network analyst?

Florida Football Insiders



Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There is no mistaking that Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey is talented, and in 2017 he was named as an All-Pro by his peers and most recenlty in the player polled “Top 100.” So, that’s a validation that doesn’t need a whole lot else.

Yet, an NFL Network analyst and a former NFL defensive back himself, is questioning part of his game.

And, Jalen Ramsey got annoyed. Like, really annoyed.

It all began when, Bucky Brooks, who hosts a successful podcast and appears regularly on the NFL Network questioned another player, DB Casey Hayward of the Chargers, and whether he was a “transcendent talent” in coverage.

The exchanges with Hayward on Twitter Thursday went on for a bit and then, Ramsey jumped in here:


And, when Brooks tweeted about Ramsey and why he was drafted two years ago in the top five by Jacksonville, things cranked up on social media:

Next, Ramsey questioned whether Brooks believes Ramsey is only a product of the Jaguars “defensive system” and not of his ability to shutdown the opposing team’s top wideout, one on one:

Brooks referenced former fellow Noles All American and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders as one of those rare “lock down” corners, and of course, that someone that Ramsey, two years removed from FSU, wants to be compared to with his own game.

Brooks then explained further about his own analysis and teams/GMs/personnel executives thinking:

In the end, Ramsey, who is not bashful about expressing his opinions on or off the field, finally gave some props to Brooks for having an informed opinion:

The bottom line is that analysts get paid to analyze. And the good ones are always soliciting the opinions of others, who are actually coaching and working in the NFL Front office.

And further, if Ramsey keeps “locking down” the likes of the Texans DeAndre Hopkins, and the Colts T.Y. Hilton, who he sees twice a year, then he will continue to get the respect he wants. And, he’ll get the second contract dollars that come with it, too.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Network will show Jaguars preseason game at Minnesota nationally

Florida Football Insiders



Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a tremendous surprise turnaround season that included a division win and two playoff victories, the Jaguars have everyone in North Florida buzzing for 2018. And the NFL Network is interested enough that it has announced it will be showing their second preseason game, at the Vikings, to the nation on Saturday August 18th.

This information was included in the NFL’s announcement that NFL Network will televise a total of 15 preseason games live, nationally:

The Jaguars will practice against the Vikings in Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday (8/15-16) prior to playing the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota, who won the NFC North and made the NFC Championship Game last year, signed arguably the top free agent on the market last March. That’s when they inked former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive three year fully guaranteed $84 million deal.

Jacksonville will open the preseason the previous week against the NFC South champion Saints at newly renamed TIAA Bank Field in North Florida.

The good news in addition to the practice time with the Vikes, most of the starters on both sides of the ball will see action into the second quarter, if not halftime of the second preseason game.

This will be good work for QB Blake Bortles and his new assortment of targets like WR Donte Moncrief and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who both signed with the Jags in March.

And for the stout Jaguars defense led by DT Calais Campbell, LB Telvin Smith and CB Jalen Ramsey (all of whom made the Pro Bowl last year) will get a good opening half challenge from Cousins, and receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. It will also be curious to see if second year former FSU star running back Dalvin will be fully recovered from his ACL tear. And, we’ll see if the Vikings want to give him some work or rest him completely in August.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars DT Marcell Dareus involved in two sexual assault allegations

Florida Football Insiders



Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars traded for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus last year to re-unite him with former head coach Doug Marrone and give him a fresh start on living up to his first round draft pick expectations.

Unfortunately, less than a year later, Dareus is involved in not one, but two sexual assault complaints.

First, it was learned Wednesday afternoon that a woman in Houston, TX, has accused Dareus of having unprotected sex with her in April, while she was unconscious. And she further claims that Dareus gave her a sexually transmitted disease. The unidentified woman filed a civil lawsuit seeking $15,000 in damages.

“News 4” in Jacksonville reporter Chris Parenteau had more on that allegation:

News 4 reported on it’s evening newscast Wednesday that there’s no criminal complaint with Houston Police against Dareus at this time.

The accuser’s attorney did give this statement to the station Wednesday afternoon:

“There are civil and criminal laws in both Florida and Texas that address circumstances where someone knowingly exposes another to sexually transmitted diseases. As of now, we are not aware that any criminal charges have been filed in this matter. Our focus is on protecting our client’s right to recover damages for the severe physical and emotional harm that’s been caused to her.”

The situation is further confused by the accuser in the Houston case admitting to having consensual sex on multiple occasions with Dareus after the alleged incident.

Meanwhile, there is another allegation that came to light on Wednesday, involving Dareus and others, that an alleged sexual assault occurred at a Tampa mansion in January of 2017. In a civil complaint originally filed in December of last year, an unidentified Las Vegas woman says that Dareus and members of his “entourage” sexually assaulted her after a night of partying.

The woman accused Dareus formally in an amendment to her civil suit in Hillsborough County Court in January. Dareus and his lawyers are trying to get the lawsuit dismissed at an August 9th hearing.

Dareus played in 12 total games for the Jaguars after the trade with the Bills. He had one regular season sack, but excelled in the playoffs with sacks in the Pittsburgh win and the narrow loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. He had 10 total tackles in the three post season games.

The 28 year old Dareus, a first round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, is scheduled to make $10.2 million dollars this season in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars only comment to the media on Wednesday evening was that they were aware of the allegations and monitoring the situation.

Dareus’ agent had not returned calls or emails seeking comment from them or Dareus on the civil lawsuits and sexual assault allegations.

Obviously, in addition to the seriousness of the allegations, even in civil court, the NFL will likely be investigating the situation soon under the league’s personal conduct policy.

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