Who Will Fill-in for Jaguars?

Reggie Williams (Phil Coale/AP)

After both Reggie Williams and Brad Meester made visits to Birmingham, Alabama to see the busiest surgeon in sports, Dr. James Andrews, the Jaguars now have a timeline for both players return. JagNation previews the Jaguars early matchups without their starters.

News was positive for wide receiver Reggie Williams when he had his knee scoped, as Dr. Andrews cleaned out some cartilage. It is possible that Williams could make a return by the Jaguars final preseason game at Washington.

"Reggie will be out 2-3 weeks," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters after Friday night's scrimmage.

If that timeline is accurate, the Jaguars won't have to make any roster decisions to account for their single-season touchdown reception record holder's absence. Although the news is positive about Williams, the team will likely have to account for free agent Jerry Porter's absence, as he had hamstring surgery just before the beginning of training camp. Porter is expected to be back by the start of the season, but hamstring injuries tend to be tricky and lengthy, and the Jaguars shouldn't count on Porter to make much of an impact early on even if he is healthy, due to the lack of work and timing with quarterback David Garrard.

The most likely solution to the scenarios with Williams and Porter will be for the team to keep six wide receivers instead of five. What this does is it opens the door for Matt Jones and Troy Williamson to play up to their potential and be the players that the Jaguars and Vikings respectively thought they were selecting in the first-round of the 2005 draft.

The news for starting center Brad Meester isn't catastrophic, but the prognosis isn't as good as that of Williams. Meester reportedly has a torn right biceps and his recovery time is roughly 8-10 weeks. Jack Del Rio labeled Meester's possible return date—

"Week four or week five, certainly for the bye week."

Dennis Norman seems to be taking a firm grasp of the center position in Meester's absence, and the Jaguars have some depth in former collegiate center Uche Nwaneri and undrafted rookie Drew Miller, who has been impressive.

The big question regarding these injuries is how the Jaguars will fare without their starters being 100%. It's really anyone's guess. The team opens at Tennessee, against a Titans team that finished fifth in the NFL in rushing defense a year ago. We made reference to the rushing defense of the Jaguars most bitter rivals being that the team will likely try and play a close to the vest, ball-control game. Without all their available options on offense, it may be up to the Jaguars defense to neutralize the Tennessee ground game and post a low-scoring week one victory.

The Jaguars return home for week two to take on the Buffalo Bills, who will have an extra-motivated Marcus Stroud in the middle. The Bills sold out against the Jaguars rushing attack last season and held Jacksonville in check for the better part of three quarters. The Jaguars may need to lean heavily on the "D" once again in week two.

The Jaguars are going to need to have a balanced, efficient offense in week three when they head up to Indianapolis to take on the kings of the AFC South. Indy's offense has had very good success against the Jaguars defense, and Jacksonville will need to score points to win this game and potentially take early control of the division.

In week five the Jaguars return home to face the revenge-minded Pittsburgh Steelers, who were defeated twice at home by Jacksonville a year ago. The Steelers will likely batter and bruise the home team, but the Jaguars have several matchup advantages up front.

The final game prior to the bye week and the projected return of Brad Meester will be in the Mile High City, as the Jaguars take on the Broncos. Jacksonville dominated Denver a year ago, and Mike Shanahan's bunch will be looking to make amends.

With the Jaguars looking to win a division title, simply getting by early on will not be good enough. Jacksonville needs to plug in their reserves and not miss a beat as Indianapolis has began each of the last three seasons 7-0 or better. Will Matt Jones, Troy Williamson, and Dennis Norman be able to fill the big shoes of Jerry Porter, Reggie Williams, and Brad Meester? They're going to have to.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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