JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the Jaguars bring their voluntary off-season practices, the organized team activities, two key players will be in the spotlight: left tackle Branden Albert and quarterback Blake Bortles.
Albert was acquired in a trade with the Dolphins on March 9, has not participated in the voluntary off-season workout program with the Jaguars. He reportedly wants a new contract, a deal the Jaguars do not appear to be willing to offer him. Last week, head coach Doug Marrone said that he had not head from Albert and was unsure about whether the veteran would participate in OTAs.
"I think what hurts me a little bit is that I just want to know," Marrone said on May 13. "When you ask me a question, I can answer it or if Dave Caldwell asks me a question, I can answer it. I can answer them. Is he going to come? I don’t know. Is he going to play? I don’t know. That is the most frustrating thing."
Since then, the Florida Times-Union reported that Albert did communicate with the team, but it is still unknown whether he will participate in this week's OTAs. The Jaguars will hold three weeks of OTAs then the mandatory mini-camp on June 13-15.
If Albert doesn't show for OTAs, rookie second-round pick Cam Robinson is likely to get a lot of work at left tackle. He worked exclusively at that position in rookie mini-camp, despite talk that he could be used at right tackle or even at guard.
Quarterback will also be a position under scrutiny. Coming off a season that saw him throw 16 interceptions, his third straight season with more than 15 picks, Bortles spent time in California working on his mechanics. While we haven't been able to watch Bortles throw this off-season, Marrone saw improvement in his motion when watching Bortles.
"I think improved, there’s no doubt about it," Marrone said. "There are certain things that I think you guys are able to go see there, as far as his elbow and his arm, it’s much improved. I think there are a lot of things we’re still working on, along with everyone else at this stage."
In the big picture, we will get our first look at the Jaguars offensive and defensive philosophies. While both coordinators are the same as they were when the season ended, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and defensive coordinator Todd Wash, with Marrone in his first off-season as Jaguars head coach and Tom Coughlin now installed as the executive vice president of football operations, there is an expectation that the Jaguars philosophies on both sides of the ball will be different than under Gus Bradley.