The Jaguars, after what has been a week of constant debate about the team's QB situation, will play host to the Panthers on Thursday night at 7:30. Here's 5 players to watch in the Jaguars third and most important preseason game.
1. QBs - We're counting all the QBs as one here, because, well, they're all important to watch. It appears Chad Henne will likely get the start now that there is an open competition between he and Blake Bortles. Henne needs more work with the ones and he'll get it. While many are excited to put Blake on the bench in favor of Henne, they also forget that Henne was benched in 2015 in favor of a rookie Blake Bortles. Henne has more career INTs than TDs. But don't lose sight of the fact that he has played very well lately. Let's see if that carries over against a quality team like the Panthers. For Bortles you want to watch his body language and just see if he looks at all confident in himself while on the field Thursday. For Brandon Allen more of the same would be good. He was the Jaguars best QB last Thursday and guided the team to it's only TD of the night. He's working against back ups, but he's performing very well in doing so.
2. Chris Ivory - Chris Ivory is supposed to be the team's second best running back and a guy the team can rely on to spell Leonard Fournette. So far in Jacksonville, including this preseason, Ivory has been much more dud than stud. Fournette will be out for this contest and so will the team's other backup RB TJ Yeldon. Ivory should get some nice run in this one. It would be a huge momentum boost if Ivory could break free and find some running lanes.
3. Keelan Cole - Of all the training camp stars, Keelan Cole has shined brightest. He's done absolutely everything right, save his one drop on a would be TD from Chad Henne. If Cole hopes to establish himself as one of the final WRs to make the Jaguars roster he'll need to avoid big mistakes like dropped TDs, but that's not all he needs to do. Cole will have to be a special teams asset. He proved in week one that he can get down the field and make a tackle as a gunner and in week two he proved an effective punt returner. If Cole keeps his positive play up the Jaguars will have no choice but to find a roster spot for the 24 year old rookie.
4. Dante Fowler - He's been a regular on this list for the last year or so, but Fowler does need to play well. By all accounts he is an emotional guy that needs his confidence to perform at a high level. Fowler's confidence should be sky high after what has been a truly impressive preseason. In week one he recorded 4 pressures and was one of PFF's highest rated pass rushers. In week two Fowler got a sack and a forced fumble. If his momentum carries him through the ever important third preseason game, Fowler might just be in line for a bit of a breakout in 2017. If Fowler can become an effective pass rusher it would make the Jaguars already formidable defensive front into a potentially game breaking unit.
5. Dede Westbrook - Why? Because to this point in preseason play Westbrook has been easily the most exciting offensive player for the Jaguars. In week one he scored a 42 yard TD and in week two he racked up 6 catches for 131 yards. Combine those two performances and he is leading the entire NFL in receiving yards this preseason. Westbrook doesn't have to worry about making the roster, but if he continues to shine it's going to be really difficult for the Jaguars to keep him off the field in 2017. Despite his thin frame Westbrook has played tough, showed the ability to beat press coverage, and hasn't flinched when running routes across the middle of the field.
Who are you most excited to watch on Thursday? Let us know in the comments below!
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