Falcons, Jaguars trying to settle O-line in finale

The Jacksonville Jaguars had few, if any, concerns at center for a dozen years. Brad Meester was Jacksonville’s man in the middle Lavonte David Authentic Jersey every season since 2002, and he was arguably the most consistent and dependable player in franchise history. He set a team record for games played (208) and notched the two longest streaks of consecutive starts (92 and 89). So it should be no surprise that the Jaguars have had a tough time replacing him. The Jaguars essentially benched center Mike Brewster after two preseason games, opening up the job to journeyman Jacques McClendon and rookie Luke Bowanko. Jacksonville hopes to settle the position in Thursday’s preseason finale against Atlanta, which also is looking to finalize its offensive line. ”We just want to challenge them one more time to see who shows up and what we’re looking for,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. Brewster was supposed to slide right into the starting job. The former Ohio State standout spent two years waiting for Meester to retire, but he sailed two shotgun snaps over Chad Henne’s head in the preseason opener against Tampa Bay and then got handled inside the following week at Chicago. ”I try to stay positive,” Brewster said. ”I don’t see the point in ever worrying about certain things you don’t control. You’ve just got to prepare yourself for anything and that’s how I’ve always been. It’s how I was raised and it’s how I’m always going to be. Just don’t let anything like that throw you off.” All indications are Bowanko will get the nod over McClendon, who is expected to start at left guard against the Falcons in place of Zane Beadles (calf). Jacksonville selected Bowanko in the sixth round of the NFL draft in May. The Virginia graduate wasn’t expected to start right away, especially since the Jaguars already have third-round pick Brandon Linder penciled in at right guard and second-year pro Luke Joeckel starting at left tackle. But with Brewster’s struggles, the Jaguars believe they will be better off in the long run if they get the rookies on the field – even if it means taking some lumps early. ”It’s like coming in your first day of college,” Bowanko said. ”You know others here have been doing this for a while, but it’s not really about them. It’s about what you can do and what abilities you bring to the table and justifying people’s faith that they had in you to draft you. ”I just came in, and if I was good enough to do that, it would kind of take care http://www.buccaneersshop.us.com/Lavonte_David_Jersey of itself. Nothing is etched in stone, anything even to this day. So I’m just working to get better and put my best stuff out there.” Bowanko might be further along had it not been for a foot injury that kept him out parts of training camp. ”He’s got a lot of upside,” Bradley said. ”It’s unfortunate that he’s nicked up a little bit. We’re… Read More »

The most telling moment

The most telling moment of last Sunday’s playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets for the American Football Conference Championship came in the fourth quarter. The Jets were driving to close the score to 24-19. But it was the television shot of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines that interested me the most. It was all in the eyes, unmoving, not even a single blink, aimed at a faraway distance only he could see. I found the moment chilling; into my head popped the description a former prosecutor once gave me of a defendant who had committed repeated acts of assault—it too was all in the eyes, what he called “the dead eyes of a great white shark,” always on the prowl for the next victim. Or in the case of Roethlisberger, the habit of getting what he wanted when he wanted because he wanted, even if it meant troubling accusations of sexual assault by a 20-year-old college student in a nightclub last March in Milledgeville, Georgia. In a videotaped interview, she told police that she was led into a hallway by one of Roethlisberger’s bodyguards, whereupon Roethlisberger himself followed and pulled out his penis, ostensibly with more in mind than letting her see if it was circumcised. So how could any woman, no matter how young, no matter how drunk, no matter how ripe for being taken advantage of, resist such an elegant overture? He wanted it when he wanted it because he wanted it, and in the nightclub bathroom he allegedly had sex with the woman, powerless to resist, she told investigators, because of his temper and her size, 5-4 and 141 pounds, versus his, 6-5 and 241 pounds, and the fact she was clearly inebriated. The statement she gave seemed pretty damn convincing. After 500 pages of hemming and hawing by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Roethlisberger was never criminally charged. There were conflicting versions, as there almost always are when a big-time athlete has been accused of sexual assault and the accuser becomes the accused in a matter of seconds. But National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell subsequently suspended Roethlisberger for the first six games of the 2010 regular season, finding that he had facilitated the purchase of alcohol for underage college students who were in all likelihood were already intoxicated, placing both the students and himself at risk. The contrition of Big Ben has turned into the all too familiar condescension of Big Ben—I am a great athlete and the rest of you are annoying gnats. What was Roethlisberger thinking on the sideline last weekend? My hunch is not much. He has never struck me as a man of any particular introspection, his style of play far more Sasquatch than silk, a sullen behemoth tough to bring down and almost always able to make completions when it counts. When he got into his jam in Georgia, he was deft enough to talk the talk and do his best to squirm… Read More »