As an offensive lineman playing in Jacksonville, Luke Joeckel hasn’t faced as much scrutiny as some of the players drafted behind him. Still, as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, the Arlington High School and Texas A&M product knows what the headlines have said:
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“There’s definitely always been those expectations since I got drafted and all that kind of stuff,” Joeckel said in a phone interview. “I’ve always tried to ignore all that kind of stuff and play football. I’ve tried to simplify everything. When you start thinking about expectations and make-or-break and all that kind of stuff, it really messes with your head. I just want to think about being the best I can be.”
Joeckel, 24, has made progress.
Bigger, stronger and more experienced, the 315-pounder has made big strides on the field.
There’s definitely always been those expectations since I got drafted ... . I’ve always tried to ignore all that kind of stuff and play football.
Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel
In six starts at left tackle this season, Joeckel has allowed only one sack, according to STATS, with two false starts and two holds. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, who was sacked a league-high 55 times in 14 games last season, has taken 25 sacks this season.
“I think I’m way better,” said Joeckel, who allowed 8.5 of the 71 sacks the Jaguars gave up last season. “The game has slowed down. That was one of the biggest things stepping up to the NFL from college. The speed really picks up, and things are flying around 100 miles an hour when you first get in the league. Things are really starting to slow down. It’s a process, but I definitely feel like there’s been improvement.”
After being injury-free for his high school and college careers, Joeckel has had more than his share of injuries in the NFL. He missed 11 games as a rookie after fracturing his right ankle.
He missed two more games this season with a left ankle injury.
Luke Joeckel has given up only one sack this season, according to STATS. He gave up 8.5 last season, when the Jaguars allowed a league-high 71.
“It’s just part of being an offensive lineman,” said Joeckel, who started all 37 games at left tackle in his three seasons at A&M and won the Outland Trophy in 2012. “I was lucky not to get rolled up before [getting to the NFL]. I never really had any type of injury growing up or in college and was totally healthy. I just got rolled up my rookie year, and this time it was a freaky thing. Hopefully it never happens again. It’s all part of the game and all good now.”
His rookie season cost him an important developmental year. He started four games at right tackle, and the Jaguars had just moved him to left tackle after trading Eugene Monroe.
“I think every snap helps with your development,” said Joeckel, whose twin brother, Matt, a former A&M and TCU quarterback, now attends Texas Tech’s law school. “Any time you get a snap, you get experience. Games are definitely the biggest thing, but the spring workouts and training camp and all that kind of stuff, you get a lot of work. Missing out on that my rookie year was definitely tough, but now I’m just trying to get better and don’t even think back on the rookie year.”
My five cents
1. Doctors have diagnosed Wes Welker with at least six concussions in his career. Those are the documented head injuries. Welker and the St. Louis Rams insist they have no concerns. The NFL likely does, hoping and praying he makes it through this season without another.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown has played with three quarterbacks. Yet, he ranks second in the league in receptions (69) and receiving yards (1,002) to Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Brown received offensive player of the year votes last season. He should again this season.
3. Since none of the top-10 picks from the 2014 draft have played like it, it’s hard to criticize the Houston Texans for their choice of Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall choice. But the outside linebacker underwent microfracture surgery in December as a rookie, and in a season and a half also has had sports hernia surgery, a concussion, meniscus surgery, a sprained ankle, an illness, a shoulder injury and now a back injury. He has 21 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in seven games this season.
4. The New York Giants have only nine sacks this season, but they have their best pass-rusher back. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul returned last week from permanently damaging his right hand in a fireworks accident this summer and played 73 percent of the snaps. He made two tackles and two quarterback hits against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
5. Some have questioned Matthew Stafford’s and Calvin Johnson’s futures in Detroit. But Stafford would count $11 million against the Lions’ salary cap in 2016 if they traded him and $5.5 million in 2017. Johnson, 30, holds dead-cap charges of $13 million, $5 million and $3.5 million the next three seasons if the Lions trade him. Expect both to return next season, with the Lions attempting to build around them.
New York Giants kicker Josh Brown has made a franchise-record 23 consecutive field-goal attempts, including all 19 this season. He earned NFC special teams player of the week honors after field goals of 35, 35, 53 and 44 yards last week against the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould has a current streak of three consecutive missed field goals, including two last week. He has made 17 of 20 field-goal attempts this season and 11 of 12 PAT tries.
24 The Green Bay Packers’ winning streak over the Detroit Lions in Wisconsin, including the postseason. Twelve players on Green Bay’s 53-player roster weren’t even born on Dec. 15, 1991, when Detroit last won in Wisconsin — a 21-17 victory.
2016 NFL Draft
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports and NFLDraftScout.com gives his top-10 senior cornerbacks and top-five draft-eligible underclassmen at the position for the 2016 draft:
1. William Jackson, Houston, 6-1, 195
2. Will Redmond, Miss. St., 5-11, 186
3. Eric Murray, Minnesota, 5-11, 196
4. B. Boddy-Calhoun, Minn., 5-10, 189
5. Cyrus Jones, Alabama, 5-10, 196
6. Maurice Canady, Virginia, 6-1, 185
7. D.J. White, Georgia Tech, 5-11, 188
8. Harlan Miller, SE La., 6-0, 180
9. Kevin Peterson, Okla. St., 5-11, 190
10. James Bradberry, Samford, 6-0, 205
1. Jalen Ramsey, Florida St., 6-1, 202
2. Mackensie Alexander, Clemson, 5-11, 190
3. Vernon Hargreaves, Florida, 5-11, 199
4. Tre’Davious White, LSU, 5-11, 191
5. Kendall Fuller, Va. Tech, 6-0, 197, 4.48
The Philadelphia Eagles’ 693 rushing yards over the past four games lead the league.
Bucs receiver Mike Evans dropped six passes last week, the most by any player in 10 years, according to ESPN research. The former Texas A&M star leads the league with 10 drops on 73 targets.
The Baltimore Ravens sport a 23-9 record in the month of November since head coach John Harbaugh took over in 2008. It stands as the NFL’s best record over that stretch.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has a 4-7 record in prime-time games but won Nov. 5 on Thursday Night Football.
Melvin Gordon has yet to score a touchdown or rush for 100 yards in a game. But he projects to become the first San Diego Chargers rookie running back with at least 900 scrimmage yards since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001.
Peyton Manning has a 14-1 record as a starter against Kansas City, and he hasn’t been on the losing end against the Chiefs since 2004.
The Rams’ defense has allowed only two touchdowns in four home games.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr projects to throw 38 touchdowns this season. Daryle Lamonica owns the franchise record, having passed for 36 in 14 games in 1969.
The Miami Dolphins have allowed 152.1 rushing yards per game in the last 14 games dating to the final six games of last season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the league with 13 rushing plays of 20 yards or more.
Falcons receiver Julio Jones projects to catch 142 passes for 1,829 yards. Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison set the league record with 143 catches in 2002. The yardage total would rank as the third highest in league history behind Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, who had 1,964 yards in 2012, and Jerry Rice’s 1,848 yards in 1995.
The Carolina Panthers have scored at least 20 points in all eight games this season. They scored 20 or more just eight times last year.
The Cleveland Browns have won only three games in the last calendar year.
Information from The Sports Xchange was used in this report.