JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars reduced their roster to the league-mandated limit of 75 players Tuesday by moving rookie defensive back Aaron Colvin from the active/non-football injury list to the reserve/non-football injury list.
The move was not unexpected, considering the fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma is still in the process of coming back from a torn ACL in January while playing for the Jaguars coaching staff at the Senior Bowl. For that matter, none of the moves they have made since training camp started July 25 qualified as bolts that came out of the blue.
Some tougher calls will need to be made in paring the roster to 53 between their final preseason game Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons and Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline. But in contrast to last year, when free safety Winston Guy and guard/center Jacques McClendon were among several players claimed off waivers from other teams, the Jaguars appear less likely to replenish their roster with castoffs.
Even without including Colvin, who can come off the reserve list anytime after their sixth game Oct. 12, the Jaguars will have close to one-third of their 53-man roster composed of draft picks since the hirings of general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley in January 2013.
MOST SURPRISING CUT
The closest thing to a surprise came when the waiving of cornerback Mike Harris was announced Sunday as one of 11 roster moves. Harris was a sixth-round pick out of Florida State in 2012 and made seven starts over the next two years. But Will Blackmon had overtaken him as the fifth defensive back used in passing situations, and either Jeremy Harris — who spent all of his rookie season on injured reserve — or undrafted free agent Rashaad Reynolds will back up Blackmon.
With Mike Harris gone, the only players currently with the Jaguars from the last draft of the Gene Smith era are defensive end Andre Branch and punter Bryan Anger.
Considering how inexperienced the Jaguars are at wide receiver, it was also a mild eyebrow-raiser when Ramses Barden was let go less than three weeks after being signed. Barden spent four seasons with the New York Giants but had a total of only 29 receptions and did not play with anyone last year.
PLAYERS ON THE HOT SEAT
Although Mike Brewster is still listed as the first-string center on the unofficial depth chart, that hold is tenuous at best. McClendon started at center last week at Detroit, and with sixth-round pick Luke Bowanko very much in the picture, Brewster might have seen his best chance slip away at filling the void where the now-retired Brad Meester had made 89 consecutive starts.
Wide receiver Kerry Taylor, who had 19 catches in seven games after being signed by the Jaguars in November, hasn’t helped his chances of sticking by failing to hold on to several passes in practices and games. He might last past the end of the week if second-round pick Allen Robinson is nowhere closer to returning from a hamstring injury, but that could be offset by the return this week of unrestricted free agent signing Tandon Doss from a severely sprained ankle.
PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Don’t be fooled by the listing of wide receiver Allen Hurns at third string behind rookie Marqise Lee and second-year pro Mike Brown. The University of Miami record-holder for most receiving yards in a season has made the most of his opportunity by catching 13 passes for 230 yards the past three weeks. No one else on the Jaguars’ roster has more than seven receptions or 100 yards.
Much as injuries to other wide receivers gave Hurns a chance to step up, the lengthy absence of outside linebacker Dekoda Watson has opened the door for LaRoy Reynolds, who made the team a year ago as an undrafted rookie. Except for an 86-yard score last week by the Lions’ Reggie Bush, the Jaguars seem much-improved thus far in their defense against the run.
TIGHTEST REMAINING BATTLES
Jacques McClendon (left) and Brandon Linder (right).
With left guard Zane Beadles to miss the game against the Falcons because of a calf contusion, there’s even more uncertainty about how things will shake out at right guard and center. McClendon, Brewster, Bowanko and third-round pick Brandon Linder are all in the mix, with Drew Nowak and undrafted rookie Tyler Shatley considered long shots.
Josh Evans, a sixth-round pick a year ago, appeared in danger of being the first Jaguar from that class to be cut until he filled in well for an injured Guy last week. Between Evans, former Carolina Panther Sherrod Martin and special-teams mainstay Chris Prosinski, the Jaguars could let one or even two of those safeties go.
Though Josh Scobee is clearly the front-runner at kicker, Kasey Redfern might have earned a spot on the roster when Scobee strained the right quadriceps in his kicking leg. Scobee tore the same muscle in 2007, and the Jaguars want to be sure not to rush back too soon a specialist who connected on 23 of 25 field goals and had 36 touchbacks on 62 kickoffs in his 10th season with them.