The Jaguars (finally) play their first preseason game of 2019 tonight. They'll be taking on the Ravens, whom they practiced with twice earlier in the week. This isn't going to be real football just yet, but it will offer some insight into how some individual players are progressing.
Let's take a look at ten things to watch for tonight!
Don't expect the starters to play much, if at all.
There are several players that, if I were the coach, wouldn't see the field tonight. Nick Foles, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Fournette, Calais Campbell, Brandon Linder, and Yannick Ngakoue would be on that list. There's no point in risking injury for such vital pieces to the Jaguars' 2019 puzzle in a meaningless game. We'll see if Doug Marrone agrees with my assessment. Even the starters that do play probably won't be on the field more than a couple of drives.
Rookie edge rusher Josh Allen might be the biggest luxury the Jaguars have in 2019. He has ELITE talent at his position but won't be forced into a starting role from the get-go. Still, his impact in obvious pass-rushing situations will be pivotal for the Jaguars' success in 2019. Can he continue his performance from the practice field to the game field tonight?
Jawaan Taylor, unlike his first-round counterpart, likely will need to be in the starting lineup for the Jaguars come week one in Kansas City. His development throughout the preseason and the rest of camp is vital for the Jaguars' offense. Keep an eye on him throughout the game. If he can have an impact as run blocker and keep his QBs clean, it'll be an encouraging step forward for Taylor.
Make no mistake about it: Gardner Minshew is the Jaguars' back up QB. Like it or not, if Nick Foles has to miss anytime this year, Minshew will be the man replacing him in the starting lineup. Mustache aside, the rookie from Washington State has a lot of developing to do over the next month. He has it between the ears and needs to show his understanding of the offensive concepts tonight. Completing a deep pass or two wouldn't hurt.
While Quincy Williams is on the mend after minor knee surgery, Najee Goode will be taking his place in the starting lineup at weakside linebacker. Goode has good (lol) speed and has some experience in the NFL. He may not have to see the field in the regular season — the Jaguars expect Quincy Williams to be healthy before the Chiefs come to town in week one — but there are no guarantees when it comes to injury recovery. Keep an eye on Goode to see how he performs in his first game action with the Jaguars.
You hate to see it. But every year players get injured during preseason games. The Jaguars' lost Marqise Lee for the season in 2018 during the third preseason game. Hopefully, the Jaguars and Ravens can both avoid injury tonight.
Despite receiving praise from the Jaguars' coaching staff throughout the offseason, cornerback Quenton Meeks has struggled during training camp. Can he turn things around on a bigger stage? He may need to to keep a firm grip on a roster spot.
Borders has been one of the positive stories of camp to this point. He's picked off three passes and in the team scrimmage last week was able to swat three more balls. He may be the cornerback that has the best shot at stealing Meeks' roster spot.
Pryor has been impressive in training camp for the Jaguars. Not only has been able to use his big frame to get in between defenders and the quarterback, but he's also shown off some big-play potential. I'll be keeping a close eye on his performance. Unless things change, I think he'll be on the 53 man roster after camp.
A former breakout undrafted free agent, Cole struggled to find his footing in 2018. Tonight will be an opportunity to put his skill set on display once again, and remind everyone just how special he can be.
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