Urban Meyer says COVID vaccination status played role as Jacksonville Jaguars trim roster to 53 players
The Jacksonville Jaguars kept defensive tackle Taven Bryan, but wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II was among 24 players released Tuesday to get their roster to the mandatory 53-player limit.
A first-round pick in 2018, Bryan missed the first 13 days of camp after going on the active/non-football injury and the reserve, COVID-19 list. He had to learn Joe Cullen's defensive scheme in a hurry and then make enough of an impact in the final two preseason games to earn a spot.
Bryan did enough, though, to keep his roster spot.
But linebacker Quincy Williams did not do enough to keep his spot. A third-round pick in the 2019 draft, Williams was waived.
In considering who stays or goes, coach Urban Meyer said production was a factor, along with whether a player was vaccinated or unvaccinated.
''Everyone was considered; that was part of the production and also (if) was he vaccinated or not,'' Meyer said. ''To say that was a decision-maker, it certainly was under consideration.''
On Aug. 20, the Jaguars confirmed they had an 84% rate for players that had been fully vaccinated. Safety Jarrod Wilson, who was released Tuesday, had been seen wearing a mask before entering the team facility since the start of camp. Under NFL COVID-19 protocols, all unvaccinated players must wear masks in the facility while vaccinated players do not.
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Meyer said the safety position was one of the hardest decisions he had to make to trim the roster. Both Wilson and Josh Jones had been listed at the top of the depth chart in the preseason. But Jones was placed on the season-ending reserve/injured list Tuesday.
The Jaguars kept five safeties: Rayshawn Jenkins, Andrew Wingard, Rudy Ford, Daniel Thomas and Andre Cisco.
All of the Jaguars' 2021 draft picks survived the final cut except for sixth-round wide receiver Jalen Camp. He was among eight receivers released, a list that included Jeff Cotton Jr., Josh Hammond, Collin Johnson, Tevin Jones, Pharoh Cooper, Devin Smith and Laquon Treadwell.
The Jaguars kept five receivers: Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones Jr., DJ Chark Jr., Tavon Austin and Jamal Agnew.
''That's a concern No. 1 for me,'' Meyer said on keeping only five receivers. ''That's my biggest concern and also having three running backs with [Travis] Etienne being out.''
Meyer also didn't rule out the possibility of bringing back Dorsett, who was signed in free agency and was coveted by the Jaguars because of his speed. Meyer said he was nursing an undisclosed injury.
The Jaguars could add a receiver and running back from the waiver wire. The Jaguars can sign 16 players to the practice squad on Wednesday, many expected to be some of the players released Tuesday.
The Jaguars kept only three tight ends: Chris Manhertz, James O'Shaughnessy and Luke Farrell. They released Ben Ellefson and Tyler Davis.
They also kept only three running backs: James Robinson, Carlos Hyde and Dare Ogunbowale.
Among the surprises, the Jaguars kept 14 defensive linemen, clearly a focus area for Meyer.
The Jaguars also waived cornerback Lorenzo Burns, defensive tackle Doug Costin, running back Nathan Cottrell, quarterback Jake Luton, offensive lineman KC McDermott, running back Devine Ozigbo, offensive lineman Austen Pleasants, safety Brandon Rusnak, offensive lineman Badara Traore, offensive lineman Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms and offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor.
The Jaguars placed safety Josh Jones on the season-ending reserve/injured list and they placed LB Dylan Moses on the reserve/non-Football Injury list.