Earlier this morning I shared five position battles to watch in the Jaguars preseason finale against the Falcons. Those position battles featured groups of players that were fighting for a spot on the initial 53-man roster. Now I want to look at four players that I believe will make the 53-man roster, but still have quite a bit to prove to the Jaguars.
Let's get to it!
If you've been following the Jaguars at all this preseason, you'll know that Taven Bryan has been a sore subject. In 74 total snaps this preseason, Bryan has picked up a single tackle. And in 45 pass-rushing opportunities, he's registered just one QB hit. Despite a severe lack of production and interior pressure, coaches praised Bryan's effort through the first two preseason games. But the tone shifted following a poor showing in the Jaguars' third preseason game, a game in which the 2018 first-round pick was penalized twice.
Doug Marrone was asked about where Bryan was following the loss to Miami. The Jaguars' head coach had this to say:
"I just try and keep things in perspective as in; it's not where we want to be. Fight through it. It's like anything else. We have all been raised different ways, and life is going to kick you in the ass, and it's not going to be good all the time. I have to come out here all the time, and we aren't going to win games at times, and I have to sit there and answer questions. You just have to fight. That's the one thing. If you don't, if you give up on yourself, how is anybody else going to keep you long? Taven has had a setback. He is probably disappointed, but hey, he has to get his mind right and go because there were some things he was doing earlier that were really exciting and would really be able to help our football team. That's what he wants to do, so strap it up and get your ass out there and go play and get better."
As a second-year player that was drafted in the first-round, Bryan isn't in danger of being released. But he'll need to step up his game in a big way. His first opportunity to do so comes against the Falcons tonight.
The 2019 sixth-round pick is locked in as the Jaguars' second-string quarterback. He's made significant progress throughout training camp and the preseason. In his last two contests, Minshew has completed over 64% of his passes. But there's still plenty of room for improvement. He would do well to improve his internal clock in an effort to reduce the hits and sacks that he's taking. And he needs to guide the team to points. The Jaguars have yet to score a touchdown with Minshew at the helm.
His roster spot appears to be safe. Cole regularly flashes big potential, but he needs to practice consistency. He may never become a highly consistent player in this league — some guys just aren't wired for it. Cole has only one catch on four targets this preseason. But if he can have a steady performance against the Falcons tonight, it might help build confidence moving into the regular season. Cole may be the team's opening day kick or punt returner, so doing well in those departments would help his stock as well.
Rawls battled a hamstring injury this summer, but he's been back on the field for a couple of weeks now. I think he's going to make the 53-man roster, although I wouldn't guarantee it. But in order to stick around for the long haul on the Jaguars' 2019 roster, Rawls may need to have a strong showing tonight. There are a lot of deep backfields around the NFL, and the Jaguars may look to add a running back that doesn't make another teams' final roster. Rawls needs to be on top of his game against the Falcons. He's averaged 2.9 yards per carry this preseason.
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