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Jags’ Beadles in a battle to regain respect

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ eagerly anticipated battles for a starting spot on the offensive line is at left guard with veteran Zane Beadles matching up against rookie A.J. Cann, a third-round pick out of South Carolina.

Last year, Beadles signed a five-year, $30 million contract as a free agent out of Denver. When he signed, the thought was that Beadles would own the left guard position in Jacksonville for at least the next five years, through the duration of his contract.

But by midseason, there was concern that the Jaguars possibly made a mistake in signing Beadles. He was part of an offensive line that surrendered a league-high 71 sacks as the team struggled to a 3-13 record.

Beadles was easily the veteran member of the five-man unit that included two rookies and two second-year players. That put added pressure on the five-year veteran, who was asked to help the youngsters around him.

It seemed to take a toll on his performance. Beadles had more than his share of missed blocks resulting in a sack.

During the offseason, the Jaguars went to Beadles and asked him to make some adjustments within his own game.

“The big thing has been to widen out my stance a bit,” the 28-year-old said. “It’s a little awkward at first any time you switch up a technique. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you get. I’ve been pleased with it so far.”

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has been as well. He thinks Beadles’ confidence is surging and that he has put the first half of last season behind him.

“I know he’s changed his stance, changed his footwork, some things like that,” Bradley said. “That’s hard for somebody to do when they came here as a free agent and were taken care of for what they’ve done. I appreciate what he’s done and it’s helping him.

“I think in the middle part of the season, things were still a little rough. He started to gain it at the end, but I think he’s back now.”

–Marcedes Lewis knew that when the Jaguars signed free agent Julius Thomas during the offseason, his role with the Jaguars in 2015 would likely take a drastic turn … if he were even with the Jaguars then.

Lewis’ back-loaded contract would be the first thing to take a hit.

He was scheduled to make a base salary of $6.65 million with a cap hit at $8.2 million, the fourth highest figure on the team. But Lewis’ desire to stay with the Jaguars over-rode his quest for one more big salary year. He agreed to a restructuring of his contract to $2 million a year for his base salary and $3.85 million (now 15th highest on the club) as a salary cap hit.

“I understand it from a business standpoint, I’m a businessman myself,” Lewis said. “I’m just ready to work hard, do what I got to do and help this team do some good things. I’m paid to do a job. I’ve had a chance to come here and do some good things over the years and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing.”

Lewis ranks as the franchise’s career leader among tight ends for pass receptions (315), receiving yards (3,789) and touchdowns (27). He will begin his 10th year with the Jaguars this fall and has been a starter the past eight seasons. He is the only tight end in Jacksonville history to make it to a Pro Bowl, a honor he received in 2010.

Bradley said he was not surprised that Lewis agreed to the restructuring of his salary in order to remain with the Jaguars.

“I would have been surprised if he hadn’t,” Bradley said. “Whatever we ask of him, whatever we challenge him with, he’s done.”

–Running back T.J. Yeldon signed his rookie contract on Wednesday, leaving third-round pick A.J. Cann as the only unsigned rookie among the Jaguars eight draft picks.

Yeldon was slotted to get a $2.96 million signing bonus and his cap number for 2015 is $1.0705 million.

“It feels good,” he said afterward. “It’s been a dream since I was little to be in the NFL.”

Yeldon said he was comfortable adapting to the Jaguars’ style of play because Alabama ran a pro-style offense during his three seasons with the Tide.

“Everything is kind of the same right now,” he said. “Now I have to pick up the different plays, the blitzes and the (terminology) of it.”


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