JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Jacksonville Jaguars open 2022 NFL training camp on Sunday at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville. Here’s a closer look at a few storylines:
The most compelling position battle: Fourth-year player Jawaan Taylor is trying to hold off second-year player Walker Little at right tackle. Taylor has been a starter since the Jaguars drafted him in the second round but ranks 56th among offensive tackles in pass block win rate (84.5%) and has a league-high 32 accepted penalties over that span, per ESPN Stats & Information. Little, who started three games at left tackle as a rookie last season, had not played right tackle until the Jaguars had him work there in practice at times last season. The loser of this battle will likely be the swing tackle. Even if Taylor wins the job, he’s in the last year of his contract and would have to play better than he has in his first three seasons to earn an extension.
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The player with the most to prove: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence had a rough rookie season: 12 touchdown passes, 17 interceptions and a Total QBR of 33.5 (28th in the NFL). However, he also had to deal with the dysfunction and misery that was Urban Meyer’s 11-month tenure as the team’s head coach, so that fact that Lawrence was able to play as well as he did at times says a lot about his mindset, temperament and focus. Now that he has some stability around him and an influx of playmakers, he needs to start playing like the generational quarterback prospect he was coming out of Clemson. He doesn’t need to throw 35 touchdown passes, but he does need to prove he can be consistent, elevate those around him and win games.
Most impactful offseason addition: There are a lot of options, headlined by receiver Christian Kirk, cornerback Darious Williams, linebackers Foyesade Oluokun and Travon Walker, who was the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. The most important, however, is new coach Doug Pederson. It can’t be over-stated how important having a professional coach overseeing the team is after the Meyer debacle in 2021. Players are no longer miserable, and there’s no longer any tension between the coach and his staff. Pederson made it a priority to undo the damage and earn the players’ trust in the spring so it could be all about football once camp began. Just having functional leadership in place will make a big difference.
Bold prediction: The switch turns on for outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson and he becomes a bigger part of the Jaguars’ plans. The 20th overall pick in 2020 has just two sacks in 31 career games, and he’s pretty much the guy no one talks about on defense after the addition of linebackers Oluokun, Walker, Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma. Mike Caldwell’s defense keeps the offense guessing in terms of which players are coming after the quarterback, and Chaisson will make plays and be one of the surprise successes in camp. There’s even less depth at outside linebacker after Jordan Smith went down with a season-ending knee injury and Chaisson works his way into a much larger role.