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AFC SOUTH JAGUARS 2014 STRENGTHS: • Depth along the defensive line, dependable kicking game Jaguars Offense The Jacksonville Jaguars lost the face of their franchise this offseason as running back Maurice Jones-Drew left for the silver and black of the Raiders on the West Coast. While the second year coach Gus Bradley will miss the production Jones-Drew provided, the team will look to fill the void he left with freeagent import Toby Gerhart. This will be Gerhart’s first chance as the undisputed starter going into the season after spending four years as Adrian Peterson’s backup. Unlike a lot of running backs at this point in their career, the former Stanford standout is “fresh” by NFL standards, as he has only carried the ball 276 times entering his fifth-year. The former first-rounder should attract a lot of attention from opposing defenses this season. While the team addressed their running back situation by dipping into the free-agent market, they added depth to the wide receiver position through the draft. Two players that should have a chance to make their mark on the team are second-rounders Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. With depth at receiver an issue heading into camp and the indefinite suspension of Justin Blackmon hanging over the team, the extra reps in practice will help Lee and Robinson acclimate to the speed of the NFL. The young 2014 draftees will be behind wideouts Cecil Shorts 2014 WEAKNESSES: • Lack of depth and experience on the offensive side, question marks in the secondary JACKSONVILLE III and Ace Sanders on the depth chart. In 13 games last season, Shorts III caught 66 balls for 777 yards while Sanders, who will serve a four-game suspension to start the season, had 51 for 484. More will be expected out of these two, especially with the aforementioned loss of Blackmon, who in four games proved he has the talent to be among the upper-echelon of receivers as he pulled in 29 balls for 415 yards receiving. All eyes will be on Blake Bortles to see when he will make his season debut, but in the meantime the starting job belongs to Chad Henne as he will be the placeholder for the first-rounder until the team deems Bortles fit to lead the offense. But, if the offensive line gels together and the receivers develop quicker than anticipated, don’t be surprised if Bortles enters the lineup under center. Offensive Player to Watch Gerhart will be getting his first crack as a starting running back in the NFL. Despite his inexperience, the Jaguars will look to the former Heisman runner-up to pick up the slack for the offense, at least at the start of the year. If Gerhart can prove that he is a force to be reckoned with between the tackles, it will allow the offense to have added time in the passing game to look downfield. It will also make Gus Bradley feel better about playing Bortles when the team decides he is ready, as the quarterback will not have to worry about constant pressure from opposing defenses. If Gerhart struggles behind a young offensive line, the Jaguars playoff hopes will struggle to survive. Jaguars Defense General manager Dave Caldwell addressed a major need this offseason. His defense struggled mightily to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they finished tied for last in the league with the Chicago Bears for the least sacks recorded in 2013. To fix this, the team dove into the free-agent market and plucked defensive end Chris Clemons from the Seahawks, along with his 58 career sacks, and Dekoda Watson from Tampa Bay. Watson, in limited action last year with the Buccaneers, recorded 42 combined tackles while getting to the quarterback twice. The Jaguars coaches see potential in the fifth-year pro and expect to see more out of him with more time on the field. ROB FOLDY/GETTY IMAGES SPORT Blake Bortles


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