By Hays Carlyon
The Jaguars stunning lack of depth has been greatly exposed this preseason. Coach Doug Marrone elected to only play the starters for a portion of the third preseason game.
The results were ugly with the reserves being asked to shoulder so much of the workload. The Jaguars lost all four games and were outscored 106-29.
It felt worse.
The Jaguars lost in the preseason finale to Atlanta 31-12 Thursday night.
The roster now has to be cut from 90 to 53 men on Saturday, although it’s fair to ask if 53 men have really earned it.
The Jaguars front office will have to utilize the waiver wire on Sunday. The Jaguars need immediate help at tight end, offensive tackle, linebacker and safety. An argument can be made for other positions as well.
The Jaguars are seventh in the waiver-wire order, reflected off this year’s draft order. If six teams pass on an available player, the Jaguars can claim him and cut a player.
I expect the Jaguars to be active, but first the roster must be cut to 53.
Holding my nose, here’s my best guess at which players have “won” the final spots. At least for a day.
The formula most NFL teams use is 25 players on offense and defense with the three specialists. We’ll stick with that.
Who: Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew.
Why: Has Minshew done enough to be the backup? Probably, because the sixth-round rookie had such poor support around him. Minshew didn’t show much improvement over the last month. He finished the preseason completing 54-of-96 passes for 468 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
I’ll be fascinated to see if Jaguars personnel chief Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone will be comfortable with a shaky rookie being one Foles injury away from playing in such a critical year for the trio.
The Jaguars will probably think about adding a veteran backup, but will likely hope Foles stays healthy and Minshew isn’t needed for the rest of the season while he develops.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
Who: Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Ryquell Armstead and Thomas Rawls.
Why: The depth isn’t great and this could be a position that gets a waiver-wire upgrade, which would likely doom Rawls.
Who: Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, DJ Chark, Chris Conley, Keelan Cole and Terrelle Pryor.
Why: I’ll say Pryor makes it despite battling a hamstring injury for a majority of the preseason. He was impressive prior to getting hurt. (Editor’s note: reports Friday indicate that Terrelle Pryor has been cut)
TIGHT ENDS (4)
Who: Josh Oliver, Geoff Swaim, James O’Shaughnessy and Ben Koyack.
Why: The Jaguars keep four here without a fullback. I’ll say Koyack holds off undrafted rookie Charles Jones, but he’ll have an anxious weekend as the waiver-wire claims unfold.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Starters: Cam Robinson, left tackle; Andrew Norwell, left guard; Brandon Linder, center; A.J. Cann, right guard; Jawaan Taylor, right tackle.
Reserves: Will Richardson, Tyler Shatley, Josh Wells and Cedric Ogbuehi.
Why: Richardson was the breakout story of training camp, but I’ll say his push to unseat Cann falls just short. Wells and Ogbuehi are left and right tackles, respectively. I’ll believe this group cuts Wells when I see it. They’ve been amazingly devoted to him for five years. (Editor’s note: Reports Friday indicate Josh Wells will be cut)
DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Ends: Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, Lerentee McCray, Datone Jones and Dawuane Smoot.
Tackles: Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, Taven Bryan and Dontavius Russell.
Why: This is the strength of the roster by a large margin. Cutting tackle Eli Ankou was the hardest decision for me.
(Editor’s note: Reports Friday indicate that Datone Jones has been cut)
Who: Myles Jack, Quincy Williams, Najee Goode, Jake Ryan and D.J. Alexander.
Why: I would take Ryan off PUP even if he won’t be ready until the fourth game. This position should absolutely be helped by the waiver wire, which would mean the end for Alexander. If Ryan will stay on PUP and be out the first six games, I would bring in two new linebackers off waivers.
Who: Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, D.J. Hayden, Tre Herndon and Breon Borders.
Why: There’s no drama here among the first four. I’ll take Borders as the fifth.
Who: Ronnie Harrison, Jarrod Wilson, Cody Davis, C.J. Reavis and Josh Robinson.
Why: There should be a minimum of one waiver-wire addition here on Sunday. I’ll say Robinson makes it Saturday and then is gone on Sunday.
Who: Josh Lambo, kicker; Logan Cooke, punter and Matt Overton, long snapper.
Why: These three positions are set.
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)