The Jaguars host the Browns at 7 pm on Saturday night at TIAA Bank Field in the first live game of the Urban Meyer/Trevor Lawrence era.
It's preseason, but there will be professionals fighting for their livelihood on every single play. It should be a fun return to football for the Jaguars and all of Duval, even if the Browns plan to sit many of their starters, including quarterback Baker Mayfield.
First-year head coach Urban Meyer has yet to name a starter for this contest and confirmed this week that there's still an open competition at quarterback between incumbent Gardner Minshew and rookie sensation Trevor Lawrence for the regular-season opener on September 12th. Still, this is the Trevor Lawrence show. We know what he can do physically — there's not a play the quarterback can't make. But what I'll be watching for is the mental side of the game. He's looked comfortable managing the pocket and working through reads in practice, but we need to see that under the lights. I also want to see if he can get the call, communicate it in the huddle, and get his troops lined up with efficiency.
The Rest of the Rookies
The Jaguars have several rookies set to take on prominent roles in 2021. 33rd overall pick Tyson Campbell is currently listed as one of the top three cornerbacks on the depth chart and based on his performance in camp, he's earned that designation. But we need to see him in a live setting to confirm everything we've seen in practice. Second-round pick Walker Little looks to be a starting tackle of the future in Jacksonville. Will he impress against new competition? Travis Etienne is going to get fed the ball a lot in 2021, whether that be as a receiver out of the backfield or toting the rock. The first pick of the third round, Andre Cisco, has been the most impressive safety in camp outside of Rayshawn Jenkins. Can Cisco beat out veterans Jarrod Wilson and Josh Jones for the starting job next to Jenkins?
Joe Cullen's Defense
We don't know who all will be active for this one, but we do know Joe Cullen, who is in his first year as an NFL defensive coordinator, will be on the sidelines calling the plays and managing the defense. Cullen brings with him from Baltimore an aggressive, attacking mindset. The Jaguars will be a blitz-heavy team under Cullen. Will we see that in preseason game one? I hope so.
Wide Receiver Battle
After the top three receivers, the Jaguars' depth chart has a ton of competition. Laquon Treadwell, Tavon Austin, Collin Johnson, Jalen Camp, Jamal Agnew, and Josh Hammond have all shown out in camp. Agnew is a lock to make the roster thanks to his contract and return prowess, but who else will make it? These guys are all fighting for spots at the back end of the roster.
After trading Joe Schobert to the Steelers for a sixth-round pick, the Jaguars have inserted Damien Wilson into the starting lineup. Will he play in the preseason opener? It's a double-edged sword. You want to get someone who is new around here some reps, but the depth is inexperienced behind him. Will you risk losing a starting linebacker at a position that had less depth than it did two days ago in a meaningless game?
It's been an odd couple of months for CJ. But the 2020 first-round pick has an opportunity to get back on track. After missing the offseason program with injuries and missing the start of training camp on the COVID-19 list, he practiced three times this week and should be in line to take some snaps in this one. But his tenure in Jacksonville has been anything but expected. Will he suit up? I'm rooting for the kid.
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