The Jaguars are coming off a preseason loss in week one at the hands of the Saints. While the Jaguars didn't earn a victory in week one, there were a lot of positive takeaways from the game, especially from the Jaguars first and second string players.
The team traveled to Minnesota on Tuesday and participated in two joint practices with the Vikings, last year's NFC runner up. Practice was far from perfect for both sides. But now that the teams have more familiarity with each other the game will be an interesting one to watch. Keep in mind that starters will play a bit longer this week and could see action all the way up to half time.
Here's 3 positions to watch as the Jaguars take on the Vikings!
Blake Bortles has had by far the best offseason program/training camp to date of his young career. He's shown command of the offense and has shown significantly better mechanics than at any other time in his career. He was nearly perfect in the Jaguars first preseason matchup with the Saints and led the team on an impressive scoring drive in the only drive by the starting offense.
His week of work against the Vikings this week has been a bit of a struggle. He threw several balls that were or should have been intercepted throughout the practice sessions, but if he is able to play well in a nationally televised week two preseason game against one of the best defenses in football it'll be a good ending to the week.
Cody Kessler has also been excellent as the Jaguars backup to this point. He got off to a slow start in OTAs but has been stellar since the start of training camp. Against the Saints he went 14 of 17 for 139 yards with a TD and no INTs. He threw his first pick of training camp in practice with the Vikings this week. If he has another strong showing on Saturday it will further the notion that the Jaguars are in good hands should starting quarterback Blake Bortles suffer an injury.
Third string QB Tanner Lee has been up and down throughout training camp, but mostly down. He was a dumpster fire last week against the Saints and ultimately blew a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter. He needs a strong showing to get back on track.
2. Nickel Cornerback
The Jaguars competition for the starting nickel CB spot is heating up. DJ Hayden was signed in the offseason to be the starter, but the strong play of Tyler Patmon has created a true competition for the job. Hayden played with the ones last week, but Patmon had a stronger game, getting several pressures and a sack, and played a couple more snaps at nickel than did Hayden. DJ Hayden didn't perform poorly, but he didn't flash when given the opportunity. Tyler Patmon has shown a physicality and a knack for finding the ball over the last two years of training camp. He should have a real opportunity to be the Jaguars starter at nickel if his strong play continues. There's also an outside chance that rookie safety Ronnie Harrison will get reps at nickel in the regular season. He played the nickel spot on several instances in the first week of the preseason. Keep an eye out to see if he gets reps at the position. He would certainly bring a physicality to the position and is more than good enough as an athlete to hold down the nickel spot.
3. Defensive End
The Jaguars defensive end group is an intriguing one. The starters, Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, may form the most potent pass rush duo in football. But where the real intrigue comes is behind them. Dante Fowler Jr. is suspended and won't participate in this game after being removed from the PUP list last Saturday. Backup strong side end Dawuane Smoot is dealing with a foot injury and also won't play in this one. But that will give defensive lineman Taven Bryan, who missed the first game of the preseason, a chance to show off his stuff for the first time in a live game. Lerentee McCray was the second highest rated edge rusher in the league by PFF last week and recorded six total pressures. He should see plenty of opportunity again this week.
Bonus Position: Backup WR - The Jaguars final wide receiver spot is wide open. Rashad Greene has been the most impressive receiver competing for the job, but he muffed a punt last week against the Saints. Jaydon Mickens has proven to be an excellent punt returner and has shown the ability to make plays as a receiver. Shane Wynn is a long shot, due to his diminutive nature, but consistently makes plays when given the opportunity.
Stay tuned fore more!
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