The Jaguars had one question along their starting offensive line entering training camp.
Would A.J. Cann retain his job at right guard?
Cann eliminated any battle early on, turning in consistently impressive performances in practice once the pads went on. The fourth-year veteran looks more powerful and had a noticeable difference in his technique. I just couldn’t pinpoint it as a novice.
So, I asked Jaguars coach Doug Marrone how Cann had improved?
His answer was revealing. Marrone credited the new helmet rule, which states a player can’t make first contact with an opponent with his head.
Marrone was tasked by the NFL to explain the rule and how to properly teach it in a video distributed to every team.
“I think the biggest thing that was interesting was how we come out with a new helmet rule and I was the one that did the tape for the offensive linemen,” Marrone said. “The first player I put on the tape was A.J. I don’t want to say A.J. had a problem, but he would drop his head at times and put himself at risk and other players at risk. The one thing now that I have seen is that he plays quite a bit now, he’s playing it with the proper technique and his head up. Because of that, he has been playing better.”
Josh Walker ran with the first team during the offseason program while Cann recovered from an injury. However, the Cann-Walker battle ended faster than Tyson-Spinks.
If Cann becomes the player the Jaguars envisioned when general manager Dave Caldwell selected him in the third round, the Jaguars line should be among the best.
“It’s something that we want to just see,” Marrone said. “We don’t want to jump too far ahead of ourselves, but he is doing a better job. He is playing better now than he ever has. Can he keep that up? There is still room for improvement for him. I am excited about seeing how he progresses and what happens when he starts playing in the games.”
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)