Cann's college experience helped Jaguars move Linder back to old position

The Jaguars are shuffling the offensive line, beat writer Mike Kaye explains the motive behind the move

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Brandon Linder's transition back to guard has caught a lot attention, as the Jaguars look to get the best five linemen on the field on Sundays.

While Linder's move from starting center to right guard is noteworthy, he isn't the only tenured lineman moving back to an old position.

With Linder taking on his former right guard spot, third-year player A.J. Cann has moved to the left side.

Like Linder, Cann played right guard during his first two NFL seasons. However, Cann proved his worth at left guard during his college days at South Carolina.

DOWNLOAD THE FIRST COAST FOOTBALL APP FOR MORE JAGUARS COVERAGE

Cann's previous work at left guard helped Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone shuffle the offensive line this offseason.

"The thing about it is that if we are splitting time, think about it, between Brandon playing center and Brandon’s last position was right guard – my thought process was going into it [was that] A.J. has played left," Marrone said on Friday.

"Maybe not here, but [Cann] has played it for a long period of time [at South Carolina]. I can put A.J. in at left and bounce him around from left to right, but I don’t want to bounce Brandon around from center to left, a position he hasn’t played before, so I just took him from center and right guard. That is my total thought process on that. Right or wrong, I can’t tell you. That is how I think.”

Experience is important on the offensive line, especially when it comes to creating competition.

Cann is competing for a starting guard spot with veterans Patrick Omameh and Earl Watford. He is coming off a disappointing second season at right guard and a move to the left side could help him in the long run.

“I think this – I think A.J. took a lot of heat last year. I am not going to get in to whether he played better or [worse] or whatever," Marrone said. "In my opinion, A.J. is a good enough player to play in the NFL. He has done a lot of good things. He has a long way to go, but he has great potential to do that. I think he can play winning football for us."

When they were selected as third-round picks in back-to-back drafts, many assumed Cann and Linder would be the Jaguars' long-term guards. Linder suffered an early season-ending injury during Cann's rookie year and then moved to center the next season.

Two years later, Cann and Linder could take on the long-term roles they were projected to have during their early days as teammates. 

It wasn't a natural fit from the first snap, but Cann said he re-learned the mechanics of the left guard position during organized team activities.

After starting 29 games at right guard, Cann is now lining up in a completely opposite stance. 

Cann said adjusting to the move was all about his technique.

"I don't think it's a mindset thing more than mechanics, because you're used to setting right the whole time and now you're setting left," Cann said. "You've just got to get back in that groove and make sure I'm using those left mechanics the way I did [at South Carolina] or the way they're teaching us now." 

Marrone plans to continue to "split time" along the offensive line until he finds his best group of five starters. Lucky for him, he has a few players that can play multiple positions.

Being able to sort multiple players into different categories allows Marrone to take his time and test out different options.

He calls those versatile pieces - including Linder and Cann - luxuries.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment