Jaguars News and Notes: More Injuries in Secondary
The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to have to finish the season with yet another defensive player being placed in injured reserve.
The team announced, through its website on Wednesday that cornerback Alan Ball was placed on season ending injured reserve. Last week, the team placed linebacker and leading tackler Paul Posluszny on season ending IR and also announced that defensive end Andre Branch would be out 6-8 weeks with a groin injury.
According to jaguars.com, Ball, a seventh-year veteran and a starter in 22 of 24 games since joining the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in the 2013 offseason, finished the 2014 season with an interception, three passes defensed and 22 tackles. He had two interceptions and 14 passes defensed in 2013, when he started 15 games.
Second-year veterans Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray started against Miami last week with Ball injured. Gratz had opened the season at left corner starting opposite Ball, with McCray taking over that spot after Gratz sustained a concussion in Week 4 at San Diego. McCray had remained the starter after Gratz returned to health.
McCray is expected to start at left cornerback with Gratz starting at right corner.
Jaguars nickel corner Will Blackmon sustained a fractured finger against Miami. That leaves the corner position with Jeremy Harris backing up Gratz and McCray, with rookie Aaron Colvin possibly being activated this week to play the nickel spot.
The Jaguars also could move safety Sherrod Martin to the nickel, and they also have first-year veteran Peyton Thompson available at corner. Thompson was signed from the practice squad Saturday.
SIZING UP THE BENGALS
As the Jaguars prepare for their road game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team still has plenty of questions regarding its recent play. The team opens up as an 11-point underdog. Can this team regroup from a poor offensive output last week and concentrate on winning on the road?
Here are a few questions from jaguars.com that needs to be answered.
Will the picks stop?
This overshadows all other Jaguars topics right now. Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown 12 interceptions in six games. Four have gone for touchdowns, including two Sunday in the loss to Miami. He knows they must stop. He’s also a rookie going through an NFL learning curve. Until that learning curve flattens out and involves fewer turnovers, this will be a weekly topic.
Can they keep running?
The Jaguars couldn’t run in Weeks 1-6. That changed over the last two Sundays when Denard Robinson ran for 122 and 108 yards and helped the Jaguars have to an average of 181 yards a game. Teams could soon see this as strength and defend it accordingly.
Can A.J. Green be stopped?
The first question here should be, “Will Green play?” The All-Pro wide receiver has missed the last three games with a toe injury, but has said this week he expects to play. The second question is, “How effective will be?” He has said he doubts he will be 100 percent again this season. Still, 80 percent of Green is better than most NFL receivers. Jaguar’s corners Demetrius McCray and Dwayne Gratz played well last week. They’ll need to do it again Sunday.
Can the trend continue?
The Jaguars’ defense has been dominant the last four games, with no opponent scoring more than 16 points and the defense providing sacks and turnovers. Now, injuries are starting to pile up. No Paul Posluszny. No Andre Branch. No Alan Ball. No Will Blackmon. The defense played through significant losses last week. Can they do it again, on the road, against a team with A.J. Green? We’re about to find out.
When will the offense grow up?
Bortles is not the only hot topic on offense. The Jaguars are playing a rookie quarterback, three rookie wide receivers and potentially three rookie linemen on offense. That’s just one of the reasons the team is struggling to finish drives. Red-zone efficiency and clutch, touchdown-producing plays are generally the domain of experienced players. The Jaguars don’t have many of those, and they won’t this season. When will they grow up? Realistically, not for a while…but the sooner the better.