Concerned his team’s preseason troubles on special teams could become a regular-season debacle Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell responded swiftly Sunday by acquiring seven players off waivers. The Jaguars allowed punt returns of 37 and 18 yards and kickoff returns of 44 and 61 yards during the preseason and felt those units needed to be addressed. “The mind-set we had going into this was to put a premium on speed and athleticism to help our special teams and give us depth with players we can develop for the future” Caldwell said during a conference call. “These guys are young players that have a specific trait we feel they can develop with our coaching staff.” Operating in the No. 2 waiver position because of last year’s 2-14 record the Jaguars were awarded receiver Stephen Burton (Minnesota) safety Winston Guy (Seattle) guard Jacques McClendon (Atlanta) tight ends Clay Harbor (Philadelphia) and D.J. Williams (Green Bay) and linebackers Chris McCoy (Philadelphia) and J.T. Thomas (Chicago). Kansas City which holds the No. 1 claiming spot also acquired seven players. Combined with last week’s additions the Jaguars have 10 players (18.9 percent) who have not practiced with the team. The Jaguars open the season Sunday against the Chiefs. None of the newcomers are older than 26 years old all are former draft picks who were cut by their teams Saturday and their average NFL experience is 14.6 games. Caldwell has stressed team speed since he was hired Jan. 8 but he still found that department lacking. “We didn’t completely [accomplish] that in the offseason” he said. “We felt we did that [Sunday].” For the last three weeks the Jaguars’ scouts were assigned individual teams to monitor their task to provide information on players who fit the Jaguars’ schemes and philosophies. “A lot of it became opportunity and what became available” Caldwell said. “We weren’t sure what teams were going to keep and what they were going to release. When guys became available it’s easy to say ‘Go claim that guy.’ But that’s hard because you then have to make tough decisions on guys who were here all of training camp and worked hard.” To make room for the newcomers the Jaguars cut safety Antwon Blake tight end Brett Brackett center Dan Gerberry defensive tackle Kyle Love fullback Lonnie Pryor receiver Jordan Shipley and linebacker Andy Studebaker. Love arrived May 16 from New England and had an effective preseason. “That really came down to a numbers game for us” Caldwell said. “We feel we have six guys who can play inside on any given down.” Pryor is a practice squad candidate after the Jaguars opted to keep fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou. “That was a tough one” Caldwell said of releasing Pryor. Among the additions Harbor and Williams have the most experience playing in 39 and 26 games respectively.
Jaguars add seven to improve speed, special teams
Jacksonville Times-Union | Sep 2