JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of the position battles to watch during training camp was going to be at free safety, but that may not turn out to be much of a competition after all.
With Josh Evans not participating in organized team activities (OTAs) or this week's mandatory minicamp after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur, Winston Guy has taken advantage of the extra reps and will go into camp as the favorite to be the starter next to strong safety Johnathan Cyprien.
It's a new role for Guy, who played in just three games as a rookie for Seattle in 2012 and rotated with Evans for much of the second half of the 2013 season after the Jaguars claimed him off waivers on Sept. 1.
"Going into my third season I'm more comfortable with a lot of things," said Guy, who played in 14 games (two starts) and made 24 tackles last season. "I've been in the same defense. I just feel like now it's my time to be able to show what I've got. Gus [Bradley] has given me the opportunity to be able to play and I've just been taking full advantage of it and just going out there every day just to get better."
Bradley liked Guy during the only season the two were in Seattle together -- Bradley was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator from 2009-12 -- and saw him as a player similar to Earl Thomas: a hard-hitting safety with the ability to roam the back end. That allows the Jaguars to play Cyprien closer to the line of scrimmage without worrying about getting beat over the top.
"One of the things that Winston does is he's got good enough instincts where he can go from red line to red line," Bradley said. "Winston has enough range and moxie in the game that we're trying him out at free and we're seeing him handle it. To have a free safety that can do that and provide that physical play, that's what we really need to see right now."
The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Guy certainly is physical. He had four big hits last season, three of which drew penalties and one of which resulted in a fine. Guy knocked the ball loose from Houston receiver Andre Johnson and nearly knocked out Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon with a hit on the sideline. That drew a penalty for a hit on a defenseless receiver, but not a fine.
Guy also was penalized for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Indianapolis receiver Da'Rick Rogers. The fine came from his hit to the helmet of Buffalo receiver Marquise Goodwin, which also drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. Guy was fined $9,000 but got it reduced in half on appeal.
Guy said he's still going to be aggressive and take the big hit when he can but is going to be more careful so he won't draw penalties that keep drives alive.
"This year I'll be smarter," he said. "I think now it's that time for me to be a ball hawk, just going after the ball, just thinking about the ball all the time. I feel like I'll take the hit when it's necessary but I'm just trying to think smarter, think more of being a playmaker, being a ball hawk, just being in the right position for me to make the right plays.
"I feel like I'm not going to change my game just because the rule is changing. I might try to put myself in a better situation to minimize a call like that but I've just got to be able to just keep playing aggressive."
That may end up winning him a starting job.