The expectations are that the Jags' rookie class will take it to the limit in 2016, but general manager Dave Caldwell told NFL Network on Tuesday morning that he's not putting the weight of the season on the rookies.
"When you have to count on rookies to come in to make a difference, you're in trouble," Caldwell said. "I think the body of work we did this offseason, some of the veterans we brought in. These rookies always make their biggest jump from year one to year two, so we're going to bring them along slowly and hope for the best, but I think we have good veteran leadership right now where we should be able to compete in the AFC South."
In addition to the rookies on defense, Caldwell brought in high-priced defensive tackle Malik Jackson, solid corner Prince Amukamara and rangy safety Tashaun Gipson in free agency. The Jags also get last season's first-round pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks back from injury.
Caldwell rebuked the notion that it's a make or break season for the Jags, but added that he expects big things from his players, adding: "our best football is ahead of us."
Caldwell said Jack will miss organized team activities due to college graduation rules -- not his health -- and believes the talented linebacker will be ready for the season.
"We did a lot of research on this. Talking to his operating surgeon at UCLA, today. If he was at UCLA right now, he would be in spring ball," Caldwell said. "We got to work him out two weeks ago, had a great workout for us. He was diving for balls and had an incredible workout ... but right now he looks good, he's lost about 15 pounds and I don't see anything that would prohibit him from being on the field."
The Jags believe they have that required mix to make a big leap in 2016.