As the Jaguars finished up preparation in New England to play the Patriots in the preseason opener Thursday night, one obvious spot to watch is left tackle. And it appears, they are ready to go with former Alabama rookie Cam Robinson to protect Blake Bortles’ blindside.
The O-line drama heightened on Monday, when reports surfaced that veteran Pro Bowler Branden Albert was having second thoughts about retiring and was wanting to rejoin the team. However, the Jags moved quickly Tuesday morning to squash that talk and announced that Albert was being put on the “reserve/retired” list.
Back to Robinson, he’s been sharing time at left tackle with the first team over the last week with fourth year veteran Josh Wells. Wells, was injured in in 2016 and missed most of the season. He’s been active for 13 games in his three seasons with no starts. So, it’s not like he’s entrenched at the position.
After Wednesday’s walk through, coach Doug Marrone met with the media in advance of tomorrow night and all but said Robinson is going to be the guy:
Marrone said "very good possibility" Cam Robinson starts tomorrow at LT. #Jaguars
— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) August 9, 2017
Again, it’s almost a no-brainer, as Robinson started 43 games at left tackle for the Crimson Tide and was a unanimous All-American and the Outland Trophy winner in 2016 for the nations top offensive or defensive lineman. So, the pedigree is definitely there.
The biggest concern is being able to protect Blake Bortles, at times by himself, from the top pass rushing right ends on the other teams each week. However, there are two key parts to that Jacksonville can aid the rookie with: adding tight ends and backs to help double team or chip rushers and make sure that Bortles gets the ball out of his hand quicker in 2017.
That second part is incumbent on the play calls of newly elevated offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and on Bortles himself to improve in quicker decision making and get rid of the ball as opposed to standing/holding the ball and making himself an easier target all the time.
Obviously, Bortles has struggled with all of that previously, and maybe still will. Yet, credit Jacksonville for not letting that dictate whether to let a rookie (Robinson) gets valuable time and experience trying to help protect him.