Luke Joeckel doesn’t want to be the problem with the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line.
He wants to be part of the solution to a problem that has existed for years here in Jacksonville.
As the team’s left tackle and the first pick in the David Caldwell/Gus Bradley era here in town, Joeckel was supposed to be the next Tony Boselli – a tall task for anyone who comes to this city.
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Boselli is a god-like figure among the masses of fans, Mr. Jaguar in many minds and one of the first players inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars.That alone would be too much to overcome for some.
For Joeckel, it has been a tough road from the beginning. And now with Kelvin Beachum on the roster, that road has become even bumpier since Caldwell, Bradley and offensive line coach Doug Marrone have announced it is open season in the competition to be this team’s left tackle.
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"I love Jacksonville," Joeckel said on ESPN.com. "I’d love to stay here. It all comes down to my play. I’m only focused on myself and me playing football, getting better at left tackle. That’s all I’m focused on."
He has taken it as a challenge and never once has he thought of asking for a trade. The Jaguars have declined a fifth-year option on his current contract and he still thinks he can not only beat out Beachum – who might move inside to play left guard – but he can finally prove he was worth the second overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars are hoping the same thing, and possibly changing their minds on adding a fifth year to his deal.
Jacksonville made sure they adjusted their thinking going into the 2016 season as far as this line is concerned.
Guard Brandon Linder has been moved to the pivot to play center. AJ Cann will be the right guard and Jermey Parnell will once again be at right tackle. Who plays on the left side is up in the air and let’s not leave out Tyler Shatley and Mackenzy Bernadeau, who is listed as the left guard – for now.
Everything really depends on how this competition shakes out.
Michael DiRocco explained in his story that Beachum is still recovering from ACL surgery and won’t participate in OTAs or minicamp, but should be cleared by training camp.
That means Joeckel is getting nearly all of the reps at that spot now, but he’s also taking snaps at left guard. This gives him a leg up in the competition, but once training camp begins, it’s anyone’s game. Joeckel hopes it will be his job to lose.
His play, which makes him one of the bigger names on the hot seat going into the season in the NFL, will be scrutinized by everyone in the organization, the NFL media and the fan base.
Many of the fans here in town have spoken their peace about the situation and want change.
The former Texas A&M All American knows he needs to step up. If not, the Jaguars may part ways with the big tackle once his contract ends.
But most of all, Joeckel does not want to be remembered as the first player in this regime to be listed as a bust.
He’s working hard to erase the doubts and hopes his effort will change people’s minds and perception of the kind of player he is. Joeckel thinks he’s much better than that.