What to Watch For: Jaguars at Falcons

Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert is battling for a spot on the Jaguars roster. (photo by Bobby King)
Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert is battling for a spot on the Jaguars roster. (photo by Bobby King)

by Cole Pepper
August 29, 2013

The Jaguars wrap up the preseason tonight in Atlanta against the Falcons. Is there anything in sports less compelling that the final preseason game of the year? Probably not. Still, its football and you are going to watch it, so you might as well have a few things to keep an eye on. Here are the position battles that appear to be still in contest:

Wide Receiver-Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon (when not suspended) are the starters and Ace Sanders will be on the team. It looks like Jordan Shipley and Mike Brown have done enough to lock up spots. The question here is, how many receivers will the Jaguars keep? With Blackmon’s impending four game suspension, you would figure at least 6 (depending on how the team categorizes Denard Robinson. For the sake of argument, let’s call him a running back for now). That as many as two spots remaining at wide receiver. This may be a position the Jaguars look to bring some players in who get cut around the league. If not, Jeremy Ebert may be the next best option. Toney Clemons hasn’t shown much in the preseason games, Tobais Palmer, although full of potential and speed, hasn’t handled punts.

Running Back-Jordan Todman has been a star in the preseason. He’ll make the roster, along with Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Forsett and Denard Robinson. Will the Jaguars keep two fullbacks? Will Ta’ufo’ou is the better blocker but Lonnie Pryor is more versatile. This will be an interesting decision.

Offensive line-The starters are set and the top reserve tackle (Cam Bradfield) and interior lineman (Mike Brewster) appear to be secure. Because the Jaguars backup left tackle is the starting right tackle, Luke Joeckel, the next backup offensive lineman beyond Brewster is likely to be an interior player. With Will Rackley not at 100%, Dan Gerberry, the 27 year old first year man from Ball State could get the spot.

LEO-Throughout camp, several players have flashed. Jason Babin will start. Then it comes down to Andre Branch, Ryan Davis and Pannel Egboh to contend for one or two spots. The Jaguars need to find more pass rushers. Part of this equation is Jeremy Mincey, who told me after Saturday’s game that he revels in the opportunity to show off his versatility, playing inside or outside. But he’s not a LEO as the Jaguars play the position.

Defensive tackle-Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks are the starters. Kyle Love played well on Saturday and he figures to be on of the top backups. Brandon Deaderick hasn’t been able to stay on the field, D’Anthony Smith has shown some flashes and I think the Jaguars would love for massive rookie T.J. Barnes to be a factor. You don’t find 6-7, 364 pound men everyday. Those three appear to be contending for 2 spots, and then, there is Mincey (see above).

Nickle/Dime backs-Mike Harris, Marcus Trufant, Antwon Blake, the recently signed Will Blackmon, rookie Demetrius McCray, Kevin Rutland. That’s the list of contenders to play nickle and dime. Harris and Trufant are the leaders there. Blake is a monster on special teams. This is a numbers game. How many defensive backs will the Jaguars keep? I’ll take the over, for now.

Punt Returner-It’s Ace Sanders, unless the Jaguars decide that he is more valuable as a wide receiver. Then it comes down to an opportunity for Jordan Shipley, Mike Brown or Tobais Palmer. My gut tells me that when the season begins, Sanders will be the one back to return most punts with Shipley as second option.