The Jaguars take on the Cowboys in Dallas this Sunday at 1 pm in a game that will be televised on NFL Network. Urban Meyer and the Jaguars coaching staff have done some game planning and worked the offense and defense against some Cowboys looks in practice, so they're trying to have a good showing in what will be the last live action until regular season week one in Houston.
Trevor Lawrence is the headline every time the Jaguars take the field. Urban Meyer officially named Lawrence the starter on Wednesday and confirmed that he'd play in the preseason final against the Cowboys. The rookie quarterback has yet to deliver a touchdown drive in the preseason. But his development through two games, along with what he's shown in practice, is encouraging. Against the Saints in preseason week two, Lawrence displayed pre-snap command of the offense, rare arm talent, and mobility. You'd like to see him get his offense into the endzone in Dallas, but as long as he continues to show development and comfortability within the offense, the Jaguars will be in good shape heading into the regular season.
Some Veterans Likely Not Playing
While Jacksonville's brightest star will play in this one, some veterans on the team are likely to play very little or sit out the game entirely. Among the names Urban Meyer mentioned this week are center Brandon Linder, left guard Andrew Norwell, linebacker Myles Jack, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, and wide receiver Marvin Jones. Edge rusher Josh Allen is still on the reserve/COVID-19 list and is likely out for this one.
Backup Quarterback Battle
In the final preseason game, position battles will be critical. The Jaguars will cut the roster down from 80 to 53 next Tuesday. They'll be able to add up to 16 players to their practice squad, including as many as six veterans, but this contest still carries plenty of weight for the players on the roster bubble. At quarterback Jake Luton seems to be on the outside looking in. But Gardner Minshew and CJ Beathard will duke it out for the number two job. Minshew has played better during the regular season and in practice this summer, but Beathard has been far superior in scrimmages and preseason games so far. Beathard is, in fact, the highest-graded QB in the NFL during the 2021 preseason, according to PFF. Urban Meyer confirmed this week that it's an open competition for the second-string quarterback job.
Wide Receiver Battle
There are a bunch of veterans and young players duking it out for a spot or two at the bottom of the roster at receiver. Veterans Tavon Austin, Laquon Treadwell, and Pharoh Cooper are competing with youngsters Collin Johnson, Jalen Camp, Josh Hammond, Tevin Jones, and Jeff Cotton for a spot. When deciding who makes the 53 and who doesn't, the Jaguars should carefully assess who they could likely retain on the practice squad and who would be signed elsewhere off waivers.
The top three linebackers are locked in with Myles Jack, Damien Wilson, and Shaq Quarterman, but Quincy Williams, Dakota Allen, and Chapelle Russell are duking out for one or two spots. Russell has been the stand-out of the group to this point and has the inside track to a job.
It's also unclear how many safeties the Jaguars will keep. In the big nickel and dime looks, defensive coordinator likes to put safeties all over the field. Rayshawn Jenkins, Andre Cisco, and Rudy Ford are locks to make the roster, but after that, Jarrod Wilson, Daniel Thomas, Josh Jones, and Andrew Wingard are fighting for a spot.
The 33rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Campbell has big expectations. The cornerback is long, fast, and sticky in coverage. He's been effective in the short to intermediate areas of the field so far. But Campbell has been exposed twice deep down the field, displaying an inability to locate the ball and play it in the air. If the Jaguars hope to deploy the youngster in the regular season, he'll need to prove he can play the deep ball. If not, putting him on the field will be a liability that opposing offensive coordinators will take advantage of.
The number one key for any preseason contest, but especially the finale, is to leave unscathed. The Jaguars can ill afford to lose any key contributors heading into the regular season.
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