Who Will Step Up For the Jacksonville Jaguars?
The show must go on.
A day following the devastating mews that rookie defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr was lost for the season due to an ACL injury, the Jacksonville Jaguars get back at it today in the team’s second day of rookie minicamp. The injury, which occurred when Fowler was engaging Watts Dantzler in an 11-on-11 drill is a reminder that simple blocking and the regular grind of NFL combat can leave a team gasping for air in a heartbeat.
For the Jaguars, the cupboard is not bare and the defense still has a pulse. If there is was ever a belief in the “Next Man Up” theory in professional football, this would be the time to see who can come forward and replace Fowler.
For the time being.
Jacksonville signed free agents in the offseason and have players who performed well in 2014 who could ease the pain of losing such potential. The most dangerous word in the NFL vocabulary will be tested by this neophyte of a team. Who takes the challenge and steps forward is anyone’s guess, but in the interest of this story, here is a look at a few players who could become catalysts for continued improvement.
The elder statesman of the defensive line. He came over from Seattle to help build and mentor a young defensive line. Clemons finished second on the team with eight sacks. Those numbers are misleading as three were collected against Tennessee and the final five games of the year were inconsistent.
Now would be a great time for Clemons to show he still has something left in the tank for these Jaguars.
Clemons was the player Fowler would have competed with for a starting role on the defensive line. Figure this is a chance to the 33 year old to prove he can still get it done and keep his job for one more season.
If there was ever one player who could benefit the most from this unfortunate situation, it is Branch.
The second round pick out of Clemson in 2012 has shown signs of stardom and then falls back into his usual stance. The Jaguars could use his range and his quickness off the snap to become a disruptive force on the edge.
Branch was having a fine season before injuries derailed him last season. Can he pick up where he left off at the beginning of 2014 and help the team’s sack number and quarterback pressures?
Davis is a situational pass rusher and has played well in a rotation. How would he respond to more playing time, being asked to do more from the outside linebacker spot and filling the needs of the “LEO” position?
I like what Davis brings to this team and his play since he was signed in Jacksonville has been good. I don’t see him as a star pass rusher, but he wasn’t expected to be an impact player when he was signed out of Bethune-Cookman three seasons ago.AT 6’2” an 260 pounds, he has the size to play both with a hand on the ground or standing up in pass rushing situations.