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Countdown to Training Camp: Barry Church

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Creating takeaways has been an issue for the Jaguars. Since the start of the 2013 seasons they’ve created 72 turnovers which is tied for worst in the NFL with the New York Jets. This offseason the Jaguars let strong safety Johnathan Cyprien walk and replaced him with Barry Church in free agency.

In four years in Jacksonville, Cyprien had a total of four forced fumbles and two interceptions. That’s a big reason why he’s now playing for the Tennessee Titans. Church comes over from the Dallas Cowboys and the Jaguars feel he gives them more versatility than Cyprien who was mainly a box safety.

Position: Strong safety  

2016 Stats (With Dallas Cowboys): 85 tackles, forced fumble, 2 INTs

2017 Projection: Church missed a large portion of the Jaguars offseason program due to a back injury. The team was being cautious with Church but he’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp later this month. Church also brings more leadership to the Jaguars. He’s entering his eighth NFL season and spent the past two years as the Cowboys defensive captain.

Interchangeable safeties is how the Jaguars plan to use Church and free safety Tashaun Gipson. In Gus Bradley’s defense the free safety played over the top of the defense while the strong safety lined up closer to the line of scrimmage. That strategy worked in Seattle with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor but wasn’t able to be replicated in Jacksonville. Although Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash is a product of Bradley’s coaching tree, he plans to make some changes this year. Expect to see Church and Gipson line up all over the field to give opposing quarterback different looks.

Key Stat: Jaguars secondary had a total of three interceptions in 2016.

From the locker room:

Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash on the safeties’ role in the defense:

“It’s still going to be some single-safety stuff. We have a little bit more versatility with some players. You’ll see some change, that’s for sure you’ll see some change. We look forward to seeing if it can make us better.”