JagNation Training Camp Preview: S
Reggie Nelson (Doug Benc / Getty Images)
JagNation.com
Posted Jul 25, 2007


The Jaguars have retooled their safety position in 2007 to get younger and much more athletic. In the process of getting younger at safety, the Jaguars also became a lot more inexperienced. Read about the new lineup HERE:

Deon Grant and Donovin Darius had a combined 16 seasons of service in the NFL, which includes 211 games played, 1020 tackles, 9 fumbles forced, and 32 interceptions. But with the exile of both Grant and Darius comes some significant cap savings, to the tune of $8.5 million in salary, just for '07. The players that the Jaguars will replace these veterans with are Gerald Sensabaugh and Reggie Nelson. Sensabaugh has filled in for Darius over the last two seasons, and in 2006, there was no drop-off in play at the strong safety position. Reggie Nelson is yet to suit up as a pro, but he was outstanding at the University of Florida, and the Jaguars are looking for him to make a pretty big impact from day one. Filling out the depth at safety will be Jamaal Fudge, Josh Gattis, Nick Sorensen, and Kevin McCadam, all of which can play special teams as well.


Gerald Sensabaugh
Gerald Sensabaugh is a former fifth-round draft pick from North Carolina (2005), who has been forced into playing big minutes over his two-year career, due to the season ending injuries of Donovin Darius. Sensabaugh will finally have his shot to be the opening day starter at strong safety.

Strengths:
Sensabaugh is a great athlete and big hitter. He has solid hands and can cover the field laterally.

Weaknesses:
He is still inexperienced, and occasionally gets caught out of position.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Sensabaugh will be the opening day starter, assuming he's healthy, and should be able to pick up right where he left off last season, which was with him playing very good football. Worst case scenario is that he suffers some sort of camp injury and is forced to miss some time.


Reggie Nelson
Reggie Nelson is the Jaguars first-round pick out of the University of Florida. When Nelson was at Florida, he led the Gators secondary to a national championship by being a complete play-maker all over the field. Nelson should be a perfect fit in the Jaguars aggressive cover two scheme.

Strengths:
Unbelievably fast, great hitter, plays the ball well in air. Can also return kicks and punts.

Weaknesses:
Occasionally misses tackles due to not wrapping up.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Nelson will be the opening day starter at free safety and should make an immediate impact on the field by forcing turnovers. Worst case scenario is that Nelson isn't ready for the level of quarterbacks and receivers that he'll face on a weekly basis.


Jamaal Fudge
Jamaal Fudge is a local Jacksonville product who made the Jaguars as an undrafted rookie free agent in '06. Fudge over-achieved in training camp last season, and is willing to do the dirty work on the field.

Strengths:
Hard-worker, special teams contributor, big hitter.

Weaknesses:
Not overly speedy, not a great athlete.

Best case/Worst case sceanarios:
Fudge will likely make the team due to his special teams play and great attitude. Worst case scenario for Fudge is that he suffers some sort of injury in camp and finds himself left off the roster.


Josh Gattis
Josh Gattis is the Jaguars fifth-round pick from Wake Forest. Gattis is a big guy who hits well at strong safety. Gattis will also likely play special teams for the Jaguars.

Strengths:
Great instincts, good cover guy, plays hard, hits hard, special teams ace.

Weaknesses:
Gattis doesn't change direction that well and has a hard time recovering when beat.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Gattis will make the team and be a contributor right away on special teams while he learns the Jaguars system. Worst case scenario is that Gattis gets out-played by some of the veterans and finds himself on the practice squad.


Nick Sorensen
Nick Sorensen, affectionately known as "Sunshine" by Jaguars fans, has been a crowd favorite ever since he was signed by the team as a free agent before the 2003 season. Sorensen is mostly a special teams contributor, and has led the team in special teams tackles three times.

Strengths:
Good tackler, smart player, solid special teams guy. Can be emergency quarterback although it would have to be a dire emergency.

Weaknesses:
Very ordinary cover guy, ordinary safety. Pretty much a one-dimensional special teams guy.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
Sorensen will need to play well in camp to make this years' roster, following an unimpressive '06 season. Worst case scenario is that Sorensen doesn't impress new special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, and doesn't land a spot on the Jaguars roster.


Kevin McCadam
Kevin McCadam was signed by the Jaguars prior to this season after spending four seasons with Atlanta. Was mostly a special teams player who hasn't missed a game in three seasons.

Strengths:
Good effort guy, solid special teamer.

Weaknesses:
Pretty much a one-trick pony at special teams, similar to Sorensen.

Best case/Worst case scenarios:
McCadam was brought over by his former coach, and now current special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. He will likely have a leg up on the incumbent, Nick Sorensen. Worst case scenario is that he is not up to the competition, and he finds himself not on the final 53-man roster.


The Jaguars have a new infusion of youth at their safety positions, and fans should see quite a bit more athleticism from those positions in '07. Unfortunately with youth, comes inexperience. It may take a month or so for the younger players to get acquainted with the increased level of play, but fortunately for the Jaguars, they don't face many experienced passers in the first month, actually none. It will be interesting to see which guys make the roster, and special teams play will likely be the deciding factor, as many of the Jaguars safeties seem to have very similar skill sets.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to various national news outlets. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association.



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