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Next day: Battling injuries on the O-Line

Posted Aug 15, 2014

Jaguars starting right tackle Austin Pasztor on preseason injuries to offensive line: “We’ll battle through it.”


JACKSONVILLE – Austin Pasztor doesn’t know his timeframe, exactly.

Luke Bowanko doesn’t know his, either.

What Pasztor, Bowanko and the rest of the Jaguars’ offensive linemen do know is it looks like that duo could be out at least a while, which means yet another challenge for a group that already has faced several during the 2014 preseason.

“We’ll battle through it,” Pasztor said Friday morning, a day after the Jaguars’ 20-19 preseason Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. “It’s not too big of a deal.”

Pasztor, the Jaguars’ starting right tackle, sustained a fractured right hand – the fourth metatarsal – in the first quarter Friday. He said he wasn’t sure exactly how it happened, and that he played through the injury for several plays.

Pasztor is expected to undergo surgery Tuesday, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said he will be reevaluated in about a month.

“I remember my hand hurting, but I don’t know when it actually started hurting,” Pasztor said. “It’s a little frustrating, but there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s the game we play. Injuries happen.”

Bowanko sustained an ankle sprain in the third quarter, and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on the area early Friday afternoon.

“The doctors are pretty optimistic,” Bowanko said. “It’s not too swollen. It feels all right. That’s football. Stuff happens in the bottom of piles. That’s why you have to stay up. I’ve been pretty injury-free most of my career, but they get you – the football gods get you.”

The injuries are the latest issue for an offensive line that has spent the preseason looking for a starting combination at right guard and center.

Mike Brewster started at center and Jacques McClendon at right guard Friday for a second consecutive game. The team also played Bowanko and rookie Brandon Linder at the two positions Friday, first looking at Bowanko at center and Linder at right guard, then looking at Linder at center and Bowanko at right guard.

“It was good,” Bowanko said. “We knew the rotation going into the game and we were all prepared for it. I think it went really well. I thought we played really well together.”

They were Linder’s first repetitions at center in the preseason.

“I’m just taking it day by day,” Linder said.

Bradley said after Friday’s game the team remained confident in Brewster as the starting center. Bradley and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch last week said finding a starting combination at the positions was a process that would “play itself out.”

“That’s nothing that they’ve updated us on,” McClendon said Friday. “Who knows when they’ll do that? We’ve just got to stay tight as an offensive line and they’ll put the best five out there. That’s for the decision-makers.”

Brewster said he felt he improved from Week 1, adding that he played more aggressively. He said he did get out of position once, giving up a sack and getting called for holding on the same play. Bradley, too, said Brewster improved from Week 1.

“I’m a better player when I play aggressive,” Brewster said. “Being aggressive got me one play out of 30. I just have to clean that up.”

Brewster also said he wasn’t surprised he got through Week 2 without an errant snap after having two such plays in Week 1.

“I told you guys (media) it wasn’t going to be an issue,” he said, laughing. “Last week I cleaned that up. This week I’ll clean up the one snap I wish I could have back. You just keep building off that, then you look back and say, ‘All right, I’m really starting to see the improvement.’”

Fourth-year veteran Cameron Bradfield replaced Pasztor at right tackle Friday, and likely will play the position if Pasztor misses time. Bradfield has started 25 games in three seasons.

“Cam Bradfield has played a lot of ball for us,” McClendon said. “It’s not like we have to go with someone who hasn’t played before. That’s the good thing about having some depth.”

Also around the Jaguars Friday:

*Running back Toby Gerhart said he felt good the day after his first game action of the preseason. Gerhart, one of the team’s top offseason free-agent acquisitions, missed the preseason opener a week ago against Tampa Bay with a hip flexor injury. He rushed for 19 yards on six carries against Chicago and said he felt no aftereffects from the injury Thursday or Friday morning. “It’s totally behind me,” he said. “It felt good this morning. It just felt like I was playing football again. I had a little soreness everywhere, which was nice.” …

*Defensive tackle Roy Miller on the team’s run defense allowing 79 yards on 26 carries against Chicago: “I think for the most part we shut the run down pretty good. There are some things we can definitely work on. We need to focus on those. I think that will be the difference in us being good versus being a very good run-stopping defense.”

*Wide receiver Marqise Lee said he was relatively pleased with his four-reception, 27-yard performance against Chicago. The performance included the rookie’s first NFL preseason touchdown, a six-yard pass from quarterback Chad Henne late in the first quarter. “It felt good,” he said. “It was my first touchdown in the league. I just have to focus on the other ones – many more to come.”

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