What to Watch For: Jaguars vs. Eagles

photo by Bobby King
photo by Bobby King

by Cole Pepper
August 23, 2013

The Jaguars face the Eagles in the third, and traditionally most important preseason game of the year. The Jaguars will be without Blaine Gabbert and Marcedes Lewis, but most of the rest of the starters will play into the third quarter. Here’s what I’ll be looking for:

  1. Chad Henne’s play. The quarterback competition may be over, but there is no guaruntee that Gabbert will be available for the season opener against Kansas City on September 8. Henne hasn’t shown much this preseason and despite stated intentions early in camp, he never got the time with the first team offense during the first two games. He’ll get his chance Saturday. He’ll have both Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon in the lineup
  2. Pass Rush. It’s been a theme all preseason. Sen’Derrick Marks flashed in the first preseason game, but the Jaguars need to show more, especially from the group working behind Jason Babin. Andre Branch has not looked like he can make a difference. Ryan Davis and Pannel Egboh have flashed. Jeremy Mincey has had his moments. Assuming that Babin and Tyson Alualu are safe to make the roster, there are six guys fighting for three two spots.
  3. Joeckel’s Return. The Jaguars first round pick, Luke Joeckel missed last weeks game with a hip injury. He needs more time in live fire at right tackle (although he has certainly looked the part). It’s also important for the cohesion of the offensive line to have him in there. They need to learn to trust him on the outside.
  4. Who plays when? The third game is the best indication of how the coaches and scouts visualize the roster. If somebody, say, Ryan Davis plays a lot more than Andre Branch, then you know that Branch has an uphill battle to make the team. The first line of cuts are due Tuesday. The Jaguars will have to cut the roster from 88 to 75 by then. Of those 75, 53 will be on the active roster and another eight could be on the practice squad. That makes 61 of the 75 who will remain after Tuesday’s first cut will be in the locker room on opening day. ¬†Tuesday is a big day for a lot of guys who will only play a quarter or so Saturday night.
  5. Tempo. The Jaguars offense showed an up-tempo pace against the Jets last week. With Henne in there, can they do the same? Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has been working toward reducing the time between snaps all off-season.
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