The Jaguars are expecting a lot from Eben Britton.
The right tackle will be back in the lineup and should give an offensive line that lacked sufficient depth to survive without him for most of last season a boost.
He played in only four games last season -- and two of those were at left guard as they patched together a line. Ultimately, he had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.
This week, he told Jacksonville reporters he’s feeling great and he’s not fearing a setback as he heads into his fourth season.
Britton: “I have a daily regimen that’s just stretching and core work. It’s more just adding things into what I’ve always done and just being smart. That’s about it really. It’s something you have to work on daily. I think as human beings, if you’re sitting at desk all day, backs go out. You always have to work on your core strength, you always have to work on your flexibility. It’s something that every man or woman probably experiences at some point. It’s a daily ritual for me.”
I wrote from Jacksonville OTAs in May about why the Jags expect better pass protection.
The alternatives to Britton are not great. Guy Whimper was re-signed but was up and down in 15 games last year, including 14 starts at right tackle. The Jaguars like Cameron Bradfield, but he’s inexperienced and raw.
They need to rely on Britton. Better protection is a key ingredient for the improvement of Blaine Gabbert this season. He moved into pressure or held the ball too long last season, so not all of the 40 sacks he took were because of protection issues. But many were.
“I think the last time we talked about it I really stressed the fact that it’s part of our job as an offensive line to give Blaine the confidence to stand in there and make the throws he needs to make,” Britton said. “Obviously that’s a lot on us. I think we’re working to a point where he’s starting to have a lot more confidence in us. He’s able to stand in there a make a lot more throws. You can see that on film. I think he’s just getting better and better. He’s looking great.”