Jacksonville Jaguars: Undrafted Rookies Called Upon for Important Roles
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In a year where there isn't too much to celebrate, the Jacksonville Jaguars still have nine games left to play and a lot of time to evaluate talent for the rest of the season and next season.
The Jaguars have already given most of their drafted rookies a bunch of playing time in Justin Blackmon, Andre Branch, Bryan Anger and Mike Harris.
The lone player yet to see much time is fifth rounder Brandon Marshall, who was recently re-signed after being released just a week ago.
Blackmon is yet to play up to what many think he is capable of doing, and Branch looks to show improvement week after week and registered his first career sack on Sunday against Green Bay.
Anger is having a wonderful rookie season, and Harris has filled in admirably while injuries to Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox have given others increased playing time.
While the guys mentioned above are getting large amounts of playing time, it was expected. The guys that are yet to be mentioned are the rookies that nobody knew about, and they are now starting to see just as much time as any.
Which undrafted rookie are you most excited about?
Starting with left guard/center Michael Brewster out of Ohio State.
Brewster was signed after surprisingly going undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. Brewster was a highly sought after high school recruit who played a very important role during his years at Ohio State.
With an aging Brad Meester, the Jaguars figured that Brewster was a guy worth taking a shot on. He has already panned out better than what could've been expected.
With Meester playing very consistent football, the Jaguars have struggled mightily at left guard.
Beginning with the injuries to Will Rackley and Jason Spitz, the Jaguars moved Eben Britton over to left guard. Britton was consistently beaten week after week, and he was demoted last week against Green Bay.
Brewster now heads into his second-straight game as the Jaguars starting left guard, and looks to hold on to it for the foreseeable future.
Moving over to another injury riddled position, the Jaguars have promoted undrafted linebacker Julian Stanford to the outside linebacker spot, replacing Kyle Bosworth.
Stanford came out of little known Wagner, but has really shown an incredible skill set that triggered the Jaguars to take a chance on him and bring him in after the draft.
Stanford had a tough battle with fellow undrafted rookie J.K. Schaffer in the preseason, but the Jaguars seem to be very happy with their decision for the active roster.
Bosworth started the season filling in for injured Daryl Smith. Smith was moved to the injured reserve last week, so, unless Smith comes back for the final two games, the position is up for grabs for somebody to showcase to the entire league what they can do. Stanford has taken full advantage of the opportunity.
The Jaguars biggest weakness from last season was at wide receiver. After an overhaul of new talent in the offseason, the Jaguars also brought up undrafted rookie Kevin Elliott out of Florida A&M.
Elliott showcased a field-stretching, large-bodied wide-receiving presence in the preseason that is yet to fully transition to the regular season.
After the Jaguars traded Mike Thomas to the Detroit Lions for the 2014 fifth round pick, the Jaguars will now look for the young rookie to step up into a larger role for the remainder of the season.
The last undrafted rookie to mention is special team's ace Antwon Blake.
The Jaguars are known for inserting undrafted rookies into a special teams role, but Blake has fully bloomed into a dangerous player on every punt and kickoff.
Backing up Dawan Landry, Blake is yet to see much time playing safety, but with a dangerous punter like Anger, Blake is a much needed gunner to help out the injured Montell Owens.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a slow, tough and rocky 1-6 start to the 2012 NFL Season.
Although the arrow has pointed down for the majority of the year, last week's 24-15 loss to a very good Green Bay team gave this team hope after seeing Blaine Gabbert's first 300+ yard performance, as well as a defense that stayed right with the Packers despite missing their top two defensive backs and Smith.
There might not be a lot to celebrate so far, but the Jaguars have a young team that can surprise any team, starting this week against Detroit.
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