Omameh feeling comfortable as Jaguars' left guard, looks forward to facing Buccaneers, McCoy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The left guard spot appears to be the lone position in flux on the Jaguars' offensive line.

While Tyler Shatley opened training camp in the role, veteran Patrick Omameh has spent the majority of the practices between the left tackle and center spots.

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Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone hasn't declared a starting left guard, but Omameh was the starter on Thursday in the preseason opener against the New England Patriots. 

The fifth-year lineman opened up a big hole for running back Chris Ivory to start the game. Ivory glided through the opening and picked up 15 yards on the play.

Later in the first half, Omameh helped open up a hole for rookie running back Leonard Fournette on fourth-and-inches. Fournette's run went for eight yards.

“[Omameh] got a couple of good rushes in there," Marrone said. "I still think we still need to improve in the run game.  I think overall, from the standpoint of tackles and giving ground at times, but you know I love the effort.”

The Jaguars have struggled in the running game for the last two seasons. Last year's squad was forced to favor the passing game to the point that the offense essentially became one-dimensional.

However, in the first quarter of the Jaguars' preseason opener, Jacksonville's running backs found success behind the blocking of Omameh and his fellow linemen.

"We always feel like there's something we've got to work on, areas we need to improve," Omameh said. "We felt Thursday night was a good measuring stick. It let us know the things that we need to work on, where we're at [and] help us get to where we need to get to."

The Jaguars drafted Fournette to put a much larger emphasis on the running attack. While the first-round pick is talented, he will need holes to run through to be successful in the NFL.

Omameh and his fellow offensive linemen know that opening up running lanes is essential for the success of the entire offense.

"We strive to be a balanced offense," Omameh said. "We have to be able to be as much of a run threat as through the air and it's something we've been working at. We still have room to improve but any progress we make is good progress, so we want to continue trending in that direction."

The offensive line will face its next test against Omameh's former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, starting Monday. The Buccaneers will be in town for two joint practices and the second preseason game on Thursday at EverBank Field.

Omameh was with the Jaguars last season when the Buccaneers came to town for similar joint practices. He said those situations help the Jaguars gage their talent. 

Much like the joint practices with the Patriots last week, the work with the Buccaneers will serve as a measuring stick for the squad.

"More than anything, we use it kind of like last week, as a great indicator of where we stand as a team," Omameh said. "Offensively, we understand that it's a good defense, they've got good players and it'll be another test to see where we're at as a team."

The Buccaneers' defense features several star players. The biggest is Omameh's former teammate, Gerald McCoy. The two went up against each other in practice while Omameh was in Tampa Bay from 2013-2014.

"Gerald McCoy is a great player," Omameh said. "It's great to be able to have the opportunity to practice against him. Hone your own craft and see where you stand with him and that defense coming through."

Omameh said he has adapted well to the Jaguars' shuffling of the offensive line this season. He has moved around to several positions during his career.

However, Omameh indicated he is happy to play at left guard, where he started seven games last season.

"I feel as comfortable at left guard as I've ever had," Omameh said. "I just hope to continue to trend upward."

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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