Patrick Omameh next up at left guard as Jaguars deal with latest injury to offensive line
One began the season primarily as a special teams contributor before injuries forced him to fill in at multiple spots along the Jaguars’ offensive line. The other started against Baltimore and has been made inactive for three games.
But beginning Sunday in Chicago, Patrick Omameh and Chris Reed are the two best options the Jaguars have to replace Luke Joeckel at left guard and help solidify an offensive line that continues to be hampered by injuries.
“You’ve got to be prepared for any eventuality,” Omameh said. “You never want to see somebody go down, but in this game there is always a contingency plan. In the event that something unfortunate does happen, you have to keep pushing forward.”
Omameh played just five special teams snaps against Green Bay in Week 1 but is the more experienced option, and the team has indicated he will get the first chance to start.
Now in his fourth season, the former undrafted free agent from Michigan has played in 33 games; he made 25 starts at right guard over the past two seasons with Tampa Bay and Chicago.
Omameh’s versatility is particularly useful for the Jaguars’ offensive line, which has had to shuffle players throughout the year.
When left tackle Kelvin Beachum suffered a concussion in the second half at San Diego, Omameh stepped in at left tackle and played the offense’s final 22 snaps. Omameh played the final 55 snaps at left guard against Indianapolis after Joeckel suffered what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury.
Omameh handled himself well, posting only two negative plays — a quarterback pressure and a missed block on a run play.
“To be able to be a player like that, that can kind of bounce around and play all over the line, I think it’s something that’s very valuable in this league,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “It’s definitely something we cherish on our team with him being able to do different things.”
Said offensive coordinator Greg Olson: “We were confident in his abilities to go in, and now he has had a chance here this week to step in there and play and get familiar there. I think it is important that he and Beachum get a familiarity with one another. That has been a good process between those two.”
It took until the third preseason game for the Jaguars to unveil their Plan A offensive line: Beachum at left tackle, Joeckel at left guard, Brandon Linder at center, A.J. Cann at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle.
That group started the opener against Green Bay, but then encountered several bumps.
Beachum and Linder were both out against the Baltimore, forcing Reed (left guard) and backup Tyler Shatley (center) to start. The starting pair returned to give the Jaguars their entire cast of offensive linemen against the Colts, but then Joeckel lasted only 17 plays.
“You never know what situation may arise in football,” Omameh said. “That’s the nature of the game. You’ve got to be ready for anything.”
While Omameh prepares to start for the first time with the Jaguars, Reed represents the next man up if there is an injury or poor performance. A former Division II player at Minnesota State, Reed spent last season on the practice squad.
Reed played all 66 snaps against the Ravens, allowing one quarterback hit, two quarterback hurries and was booked for one “bad” run play.
“Both of us have always prepared as if we are starting,” Reed said. “From that sense, we feel like this is what our job is. If someone goes down, it is our job to go in and keep the level of play high.”
Getting solid play at left guard — and the offensive line as a whole — will be critical this week against the Bears after the Jaguars finally found a rhythm offensively against the Colts.
Averaging just 55 rushing yards per game coming in, they totaled 136 (on 4.7 yards per attempt) in the game and seemed to impose their will against Indianapolis’ defensive front. Bortles was sacked three times but also produced three total touchdowns and didn’t have any turnovers.
Omameh was in for a large chunk of that success and believes the Jaguars can make a smooth transition as their offensive line changes once again.
His first opportunity comes against a former team.
“He’s big, physical, very strong and powerful,” said Bears coach John Fox, whom Omameh played for last season. “I’m sure Jacksonville is going to lean on those abilities.”
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