Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Center Shifts to Guard

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags Center Shifts to Guard

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

The Jaguars believe Brandon Linder is an elite offensive lineman who performed well last year at center, his first season at a new position.

So why have they moved him back to right guard, his spot in 2014-15, throughout the organized team activity workouts?

"We have the flexibility to take a player and not lose anything at each position and see what the other players are doing [at center] from a standpoint of mentally being able to handle it and make the calls," coach Doug Marrone said after practice Friday.

The Jaguars have to figure out their depth situation in case Linder is injured playing center or is forced to play right guard because nobody earns the job.

But are the Jaguars risking stunting Linder's development at center by shuttling him around?

They say no.

"Brandon is a luxury ... being a center and right guard and potential back-up right tackle in a pinch" Marrone said of shifting his best offensive lineman around.

Marrone said practicing Linder at right guard is not an indictment of his 2016 work at center, where he allowed 10 1/2 pressures/hits/sacks (fewest among the regular starting linemen) and 8 1/2 "bad run plays (tied for fourth-most) in 908 snaps.

"Oh, no," Marrone said. "[Linder's quality play at center] is statistically [proven] - that's out there for anybody to look at."

Marrone was the Jaguars' offensive line coach from 2015-16 so the decision to give Linder right guard snaps leads to a natural reading of the tea leaves: Was he on-board with Linder going to center last off-season?

"I was the one that brought that move up," Marrone said.

Marrone did reveal a philosophical change since he was promoted: He considers left tackle to be the No. 1 position on the line and right tackle to be No. 2. For years, the Jaguars felt center was the second-most important post after left tackle, evident by their 2014 pursuit of Alex Mack and their decision last year to move Linder there.

Linder was asked which position he expects to play Sept. 10 at Houston.

"I don't know," he said. "I couldn't tell you. …

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