Injuries and holdouts transform the starting squad into a different look than what would be expected week one of the regular season. However, there are still plenty of things to look for in the game against the defending world champions.
With a 7:30 EST game time Friday night, the Jacksonville Jaguars look to start on a high note after a very disappointing season last year.
New owner, coaching staff, locker room, sound system and oh yeah, how about some new players who will actually be on the field.
The fanbase will be paying close attention to two players: Blaine Gabbert and Rashad Jennings.
Gabbert will get pounded by the media if he does anything short of great. I expect him to show improvement while also getting acclimated to his new receivers.
With Justin Blackmon sitting this one out, Gabbert's targets will include Laurent Robinson, Cecil Shorts, Mike Thomas, Lee Evans and Kevin Elliot. I am assuming that the rest of the guys will not see time until Gabbert's been taken out after the 17-20 plays Mularkey would like to see him in for.
The most important change most will want to see is pocket presence for Gabbert. His happy (or scared) feet will make a world of difference if he can stay in the pocket longer, step into his throws and learn to take a hit. Gabbert has four games to prove and really solidify his job as the starting QB for the Jaguars, and unless Henne shows some flashes of Aaron Rodgers, I do not see Gabbert losing his job until he plays himself out of it.
Gabbert has proven that he has a great arm, but that is only part of the formula for a great QB in the NFL.
Bench warmers Chad Henne and Jordan Palmer should have good games against the second and third stringers on the Giants depth chart.
Rashad Jennings already has some proven success in the NFL, but not much. Coming in with under 500 rushing yards in his career, Jennings has a lot of work to do but should be able to convince the fanbase that he can handle the load minus MJD.
A big back with speed, Jennings will make the most of his starting opportunity with MJD holding out, and it all starts tonight with the limited action he will see.
It really won't be about a game with a bunch of yards or TD's, but showing consistency in the running and passing game as well as his pass blocking abilities. We all know that MJD can block the best of them, and Gabbert will need as many blockers as possible in a division where the pass rush is above average.
Jennings will be going up against a tough defense in New York but would rather see him playing against a top notch team when determining how much this kid can really do.
Backing up Jennings will be DuJuan Harris, Jalen Parmele and Montell Owens.
We got to see a little of Harris and Owens last season, but the team is currently very high on the free agent signing of Jalen Parmele, a journeyman who is still looking for a home.
Gabbert and Jennings will have a lot of attention thrown their way, but there is a lot of pressure on every single guy out there who wants to earn either a starting spot or just a spot on the team's roster.
A few others who will see time late but may still have a chance of helping this year are WR Kevin Elliot, LB Julian Stanford, OG D.J. Hall, CB Antonio Dennard, TE Matt Veldman, C Mike Brewster and DE Ryan Davis.