In only 20 days, the Jacksonville Jaguars will play their opening game of the 2022 season against the Washington Commanders.
The Jaguars must put their best players on the field in less than three weeks and hope that the spring and summer spent assembling the best possible roster will bear fruit. Having said that, the Jaguars are still completing their top 53 players to start the season.
Which position battles are worth paying careful attention to? Remember that the Jaguars have just one preseason game and a few workouts left against the Falcons. Which way are the position battles leaning as the regular season lurks just around the corner? Which players should Jaguard fans watch out for?
Here are two key players who have shown marked improvement and might perhaps start in the upcoming weeks for Jacksonville.
Jaguars backups who can steal a first-string job in 2022
2. Chris Claybrooks
Shaq Griffin, the incumbent starting cornerback, was not able to participate in the Jaguars’ previous game last Saturday night because of back pain, according to head coach Doug Pederson.
“He had some back tightness this morning when he woke up. So, we tried to get it loose, and … again, the nature of where we are in camp, you just don’t want to push guys like that and risk further injury,” Pederson said.
Throughout the game, rookie CB Buster Brown and cornerback Chris Claybrooks alternated playing in his position.
We see you, @ChrisClaybrooks!@Dream_Finders | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/wi6hMkGB4y
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) August 16, 2022
Claybrooks is key because he’s currently slotted in the second unit behind Griffin. Should the latter continue to miss time in camp and during games, Claybrooks should slide into a starting role.
Claybrooks, who excelled on special teams in college, will now look to be a crucial piece of the Jaguars’ defense. Take note that the Jaguars selected Claybrooks in the 2020 NFL Draft because of his prowess in returning kickoffs. Since then, he has been relieved of that duty and has adapted to become a cover player. He’s now in year 3 in the NFL, and when it comes to competing for the starting cornerback position on the roster, Claybrooks will have to be at the top of his game.
Again, right now the Jaguars have Tyson Campbell, Darious Williams, and Griffin as the Jaguars’ three starting cornerbacks. With some injuries lingering, however, the Jaguars want to see who can step up and step into the first string. Chris Claybrooks ranks among the prime candidates. If he excels in their upcoming preseason contests, it should not come as a shock for him to make it to some starting snaps.
1. Walker Little
Even if it wasn’t expected, the Jacksonville Jaguars don’t seem any closer to having a starting right tackle now than they were at the start of training camp. Walker Little, a second-year tackle who is starting his debut season at right tackle, and fourth-year tackle Jawaan Taylor are now officially in the thick of competition.
Taylor is currently listed as the starting RT, but Little is right on his heels trying to slide into the first string.
1 on 1
Travon Walker Vs Walker Little pic.twitter.com/duL8VZxMhN
— Jamal St. Cyr (@JStCyrTV) August 17, 2022
Taylor and Little have alternated with both the starting and backup offenses on a regular basis. The Jaguars, however, have started Taylor in each of the last two preseason games. Taylor may have the inside track to the position because he has taken a few more plays than Little. This is after Taylor missed the Hall of Fame game due to a hamstring ailment. The team’s final workouts in Atlanta, however, should help to settle the matter.
Taylor will likely enter free agency the following year, so sitting on the bench would be the last thing he would want. The former Florida Gator has done well since returning and still has a chance to get the job.
Little, on the other hand, has also done well. Jacksonville selected him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He is also now lining up on the right side after spending most of his time at left tackle. In his first season, the former Stanford Cardinal started three games. In his first start, he gave up two sacks, but in his next two, none. Now, he should have a legitimate shot at starting if he can prove to coach Pederson that he’s hungrier than Taylor and if he can translate that to production on the field.