With training camps set to open throughout the league in a matter of just a few weeks, it is time to take a look at the most important part of each camp: The positional battles.
Every team will harp on competition this fall as they have both new additions and old faces fight for roles on the depth chart and in the starting lineups. This is no different for the Jaguars, who brought a sea of change to their roster this offseason with over a dozen free-agent additions and nine draft picks.
But which battles will be the most important to watch in Jacksonville later this month and into August? Which will help determine how far the Jaguars can go in year one of a new era? We have picked five to evaluate and will do so individually over the course of the pre-training camp period.
First up? Kicker.
The most important position battle the Jaguars will watch take place over the course of training camp will undoubtedly be the one between Josh Lambo and Aldrick Rosas at kicker.
Once thought of as untouchable at the kicker position, Lambo will have to tap into his pre-2020 form during training camp to lock himself into a starting role once again. If not, Rosas could surprise and continue to push the Jaguars veteran kicker.
Lambo is the most accurate kicker in franchise history and up until last season had been nothing but consistent since signing with the Jaguars in 2017. Lambo had an injury-plagued season last year, appearing in only four games and setting off a chain of events that saw the Jaguars trot out six different kickers over the course of the season.
One of those kickers was Rosas, who made eight of 11 field goal attempts (including three of his five 50-yard or more attempts). And unlike Lambo, Chase McLaughlin and Brandon Wright, Rosas was 100% on his point-after attempts. The Jaguars' new front office and coaching staff re-signed Rosas in March, the first signal of potential competition for Lambo.
“He had some injuries, struggled a little bit, but [Josh] Lambo’s got a great history around here as far as execution and accuracy and competition brings out the best," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said in March.
The competition continued during minicamp and OTAs this past summer as well, so don't expect it to go away anytime soon. Lambo has been one of the league's top kickers for most of his Jaguars' tenure, but the injuries that forced him to the sideline and spiraled the Jaguars' kicking game into dispair are something the Jaguars will have to hope is in the past.
While Lambo not winning the job would be mildly shocking, it is clear that the job won't just be given to him. He has the better track record of success over the course of his career compared to Rosas and has made a staggering 95% of his field goals in 43 games with the Jaguars, including multiple game-winners.
But the Jaguars and Meyer, who has a special teams background, know they can't afford a repeat of 2020. There were multiple games where the lack of a consistent kicking game was the difference in the Jaguars losing last year, a factor that Meyer and new special teams coordinator Nick Sorensen are determined to avoid.
“Well, I think it’s what it is, it’s a competition. We’ve got two guys, they’re both very good kickers and they’re competing to win the job," Sorensen said about the battle between the two in June. "That’s what we’re doing every day and they’ve both been great.”
Lambo has completed 88.9% of his career field goals and 90.8% of his career extra points, including going 16 of 21 from 50 or more yards out and 33 of 43 from 40+ yards. Meanwhile, Rosas is a former Pro Bowler who has made 81.4% of his career field goals and 92.2% of his career extra points, going 10 of 14 from 50 or more yards and 11 of 20 from 40+ yards.
"They’re both talented. I mean, Rosas, he’s had success in the past and he’s showing that he has the ability. He’s showing that and this is a competition," Sorensen said. That’s what it is, they’re competing every day, they’ve both done very well and they’re both very talented. So, that competition will continue.”
In the event Lambo wins the job, the Jaguars can at least have a second kicker available to add to the roster who they are comfortable and experienced with. And if Lambo's injuries continue, the Jaguars wouldn't be scrambling for their insurance option the way they did last year.
This should be Lambo's job to win, but he will have to do just that. He won't enter Week 1 as the starting kicker just because of his spectacular Jaguars career to this point. Instead, he will have to prove to the Jaguars that he is the better option compared to Rosas over the course of training camp.