Although the skies looked ominous prior to the 7 p.m. start of Jaguars practice, everything cleared…
Jaguars Camp Competition- Linebackers
The competitors: Daryl Smith, Kirk Morrison, Justin Durant, Russell Allen, Freddy Keiaho, Teddy Lehman, Kyle Bosworth, Aaron Morgan, Jacob Cutrera and Jeremy Cain.
Daryl Smith is the Jaguars best returning linebacker and he was probably their best defensive player a year ago. Smith can play all three linebacker positions, but with the acquisition of Kirk Morrison will likely be moved to the strong side where he began his career.
If you look at Kirk Morrison statistically you'd think he was among the very elite MLB's in the NFL. Morrison has been over 100 tackles in each of his first five seasons. That said, there was a reason why the Raiders drafted his position in the first round and made him available for virtual peanuts. Morrison does make tackles but he lacks sideline-to-sideline, big play ability.
Justin Durant and Russell Allen will be competing for the starting weak-side linebacker job. The Jaguars would prefer Durant to win the job, being that they invested a second-round draft pick on him in 2007 and Allen was acquired as an undrafted rookie prior to last year. Durant has all the physical abilities that anyone would want in a football player, but he often overruns plays and bites on play-action. Russell Allen is your classic lower ceiling, high floor type of guy. He surprised many last season by not only earning a roster spot, but playing in all 16 games and starting five of them. Allen is a sure tackler, a solid special teams guy and a hard worker. Allen's strong rookie campaign likely guarantees him a roster spot, despite the team not having any real financial investment in him.
So who's fighting for the final two roster spots?
The Jaguars added free agent linebacker Freddy Keiaho who spent the previous four years of his career in Indianapolis. Keiaho can play weak-side linebacker, but his main contribution will likely be on special teams.... Teddy Lehman is a 28-year old journeyman who spent 2009 out of the NFL as he was with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the UFL. Lehman, a formerly great collegiate player has been somewhat of a disappointment since being drafted by Matt Millen and the Detroit Lions.... Kyle Bosworth has lived in his uncle Brian's shadow for much of his football playing life as he was less than a superstar at UCLA. Bosworth will be tested at one of the outside linebacker positions, but his fate with the Jaguars will likely be decided upon what he does in terms of a special teams contribution. Jacob Cutrera, like Kyle Bosworth, signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent rookie. Cutrera mostly came off the bench at LSU and the cerebral player must certainly overachieve to earn a roster spot. Aaron Morgan is an interesting prospect, as the undrafted rookie from Louisiana-Monroe stands 6'4", 238 lbs. Morgan played defensive end in college and set a school record with 22 sacks, the second-highest total in the history of the Sun Belt Conference....Jeremy Cain earned the job as Jaguars long-snapper last season and barring any unforeseen circumstances he will have that job again.
So how does it all shake out? We believe that the starting linbacker corps will read Daryl Smith, Kirk Morrison and Justin Durant. Russell Allen isn't quite a roster lock, but there's no reason to believe that his play will fall off as there's a chance he could win the starting weak-side linebacker job. Freddy Keiaho has an inside track on a roster spot as he is a very good special teams player and his former special teams coordinator in Indianapolis, Russ Pernell, holds the same position with the Jaguars. The final linebacker spot is wide open and we believe that the team will go with one of their young guys, ruling out Teddy Lehman. If Aaron Morgan can play special teams, he has a slight advantage based on physical abilities to earn a roster spot. Morgan, Kyle Bosworth and Jacob Cutrera will likely be battling for one roster spot and possibly one practice squad position. Jeremy Cain will retain his position as long-snapper.
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