There never seems to be any down time at Everbank Field.
Now that an alleged incident involving Maurice Jones-Drew is front and center on the minds of Jaguars fans and the local media, the actual news of what the Jaguars could become in 2013 will have to wait.
At least for a few days until the St. Augustine Police Department decides whether to press charges against the 29-year-old running back for allegedly punching out a security guard at a local night club.
It is one more thing this team will deal with as it moves forward. While the off time from OTAs are supposed to be about filler stories and finding great reads about the “could be star,” we are chasing “he said, she said” comments to determine MJD’s guilt or innocence.
Right now, he is innocent until proven otherwise. It has been reported the St. Augustine Police Department is treating this as an ongoing investigation and may not have any true findings until next week.
As the Jaguars turn.
Going into training camp, the neophyte Jaguars must feel pretty good about themselves moving forward.
A spirited rookie mini camp and OTAs that left fans hoping for big things (although we really could not report anything) was just what this team needed considering the turnover and failed results of the last two seasons.
Now, heading into training camp, there are issues which must be resolved and questions to be answered. But with those unresolved items, there comes a real chance to make something happen, and with that comes hope.
These are the most pressing questions heading into training camp.
1. Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne? There is a general theory that Gabbert deserves one more chance to make it right based on his high draft position. I say let the best player move forward.
So far, from all indications, there is no one quarterback who has clearly defined himself as the starter. Last season, I liked Henne’s presence with this team. The receivers seemed to pick up his energy and moved the chains. Gabbert has to be more of a leader. He needs to make better throws. This will be a dogfight all summer long.
2. Can the secondary stop anyone? The team spent five draft picks on defensive backs, two of which, second-rounder Johnathan Cyprien and third rounder Dwayne Gratz, should see significant playing time. I think Cyprien starts with Dwight Lowery at safety. Look for Marcus Trufant to have a major impact on this team and its coverage assignments. Also look at Mike Harris and Chris Prosinski to play more this season,
3. Who fills in for Justin Blackmon? First off, you are not going to replace Blackmon in the lineup. You cannot replace that talent on this roster. Mohamed Massaquoi should get the first opportunity to start when the season begins and then fall into the third option in the Jaguars receiving corps.
I think Jordan Shipley gets used more in the slot and Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson also see time on the field. Blackmon will be out of action the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse problem. The fact he can still practice with the team and play in the preseason should help him adjust to the new offense.
4. Can Tyson Alualu make the jump to defensive end? It is a question that could benefit the team more than we know. Alualu is a quick defensive linemen who has not proven to be the “find” with the 10th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Alualu has played most of his career injured. Now, we see what he can do on the outside while competing for a starting job with the likes of Brandon Deaderick, Andre Branch, Austen Lane and others. This is Alualu’s final year of his rookie contract. If he plans to stay on next year, this is the time to shine.
5. Can Maurice Jones-Drew get back to 2011 form? Regardless of the off season things that are associated with MJD right now, the focus should still be on football. That said, he is reported to be back in Miami, working with trainers to rehabilitate his foot from the LisFranc injury.
The team needs MJD to run all over the NFL this season. Jones-Drew needs a solid season to work out a new deal with the franchise. While this latest news about his involvement in an alleged nightclub incident does not help his character (whether he did or did not do it), the Jaguars need him here and on the field.
The backups are average at best. Justin Forsett could be a good runner for this team, if need be. But with a star like Jones-Drew, he needs to come to training camp and prove the injury is a thing of the past.