Jaguars vs Saints: Jacksonville's Biggest Winners & Losers from Preseason Week 2
An 11-yard touchdown from quarterback Jordan Palmer to receiver Kevin Elliott helped the Jacksonville Jaguars squeak out a 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints Friday night in the Mercedes Benz Super Dome.
The outcome of a preseason is never all that important, though.
What really matters is which players improved their stock for positioning on the depth chart or simply a roster spot and which players might have played their way off the team.
Overall, the Jags had a solid showing Friday night. There were a lot of things that head coach Mike Mularkey and the rest of the coaching staff could take into the next week of practice.
But to no surprise, there was plenty of room for improvement.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from Friday night's game in New Orleans.
Winner: WR, Justin Blackmon
Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon made his preseason debut Friday night and what a debut it was.
Blackmon played as if he didn't miss any time during training camp and made an immediate impact with the first team offense.
Blackmon caught four passes for 48 yards and caught his first NFL touchdown from 16 yards out to put the Jags up 7-0 in the first quarter.
The rookie out of Oklahoma State showcased good hands as he didn't seem to let balls hit his body, showcased his strength as he routinely made the first man miss breaking a tackle, and showed some reliability as Gabbert looked to him as a security blanket on a couple of occasions.
Despite an eventful offseason that included an arrest and a contract holdout, Blackmon, after one game at least, seemed to be ready to showcase what he can do on the field.
Blackmon is a big winner coming out of this game.
Winner: QB, Blaine Gabbert
The man throwing Blackmon the ball had a very good night as well.
Blaine Gabbert looked as comfortable in the pocket as he has ever looked Friday night.
He completed 13-of-16 passes for 112 yards and threw two touchdown passes.
He stood tall in the pocket, was accurate on most of his throws and methodically led the offense down the field on three possessions, which resulted in two touchdowns.
The knock on Gabbert early in this training camp was his lack of consistency.
He must have taken heed to that criticism as he looked very consistent against the Saints defense Friday night and got rid of any slither of a controversy as to who should start at quarterback for the Jaguars.
It was only preseason game No. 2, but Gabbert very good Friday night.
Winner: RB, Rashad Jennings
If there weren't a player named Maurice Jones-Drew on the roster there would be no doubt as to who is the starting running back for the Jaguars. The job would belong to Rashad Jennings.
Jennings has had an impressive camp and had his second straight impressive preseason outing.
Against the Saints Friday night, Jennings gained 62 yards on 11 carries an average of 5.6 yards per carry.
Jennings showed good agility and speed, but he also showed a quality trait in running backs: patience.
He was very patient in letting the blocks of his linemen develop in front of him before turning the play upfield.
If Jones-Drew comes back to the team at some point in 2012, the Jags will have a very dangerous one-two punch in the backfield.
Winner(s): Left Side of the Offensive Line, Eben Britton & Cameron Bradfield
The first team offensive line as a whole had a big night against the Saints, but it was the left side of the line in particular that really helped spur some big runs for Jennings.
That left side was without usual tackle Eugene Monroe who sat due to injury, but in his place Cameron Bradfield teamed with Eben Britton to open up big holes for running backs to run through.
Behind those two, the Jags ran for 97 yards in the first half.
Jennings broke some big runs during the first half, but most if not all came while running to the left side.
Bradfield and Britton won't show up in the box score, but they will get a lot of praise during film sessions this week.
Winner: TE, Colin Cloherty
With Zach Miller set to miss significant time due to injury, Colin Cloherty got his chance to shine with the first team offense Friday night.
He took full advantage of the opportunity.
Cloherty caught only two passes for 29 yards, but one of those receptions was for a touchdown that put the Jaguars up 14-3 in the second quarter.
This could go a long way for Cloherty's chances of making the roster moving forward.
Winner: DE, Jeremy Mincey
Jeremy Mincey already has a roster spot locked up, but he sure didn't play like it against the Saints.
Mincey played as if he was the last guy on the roster as he was constant thorn in the side of the Saints' offensive linemen and quarterbacks by creating pressure.
Mincey's pressure allowed him to record two tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
His relentless pressure, however, effected the Saints' offense enough to disrupt the timing of Drew Brees for a stretch of the game.
Winner: WR/KR, Mike Thomas
Mike Thomas has seemingly gone from the roster bubble to firmly in place for a spot after the first two preseason games.
At the beginning of camp, Thomas received a lot of negative reviews for his performance, but he has since silenced at least some of his critics.
He continued to do so against the Saints with three receptions for 22 yards and taking a kickoff back 55 yards to give the Jaguars offense great field position.
Loser(s): Chad Henne & Jordan Palmer
While Gabbert was having a great outing, his backups did not keep the momentum going during the second half.
Chad Henne and Jordan Palmer struggled to get the offense going and combined to complete only 9-of-23 passes for 75 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Chad Henne threw the one interception, which could have easily been two if the call wasn't inexplicably turned over by the officials after further review.
To be fair, Henne's only official interception, and the one that never was, were not his fault. The first bounced off a player's helmet and was caught off the ricochet and the one that was turned over was the result of receiver Brian Robiskie slipping at the top of his route.
Regardless, neither will look good on film for Henne.
Palmer looked great last week against the Giants, but looked like...well...like Jordan Palmer again Friday night.
Palmer completed only 5-of-14 passes for 39 yards. Palmer did throw the game-winning touchdown to Kevin Elliott, but that will not make up for the lack of production that preceded it.
Loser: RB, Montell Owens
There weren't many losers from the Jags after this one, but we'll have to tab Montell Owens as one.
Owens actually didn't have that bad of a game with six carries for 31 yards. But he dropped a key toss in the first half that could have resulted in an easy touchdown for him.
Loser: LB, Russell Allen
Russell Allen is a loser coming out of this game because he was routinely beaten in pass coverage and missed a couple of open-field tackles.
Allen was beaten by running backs coming out of the flats when he went to make the tackle, oming up empty on a couple of occasions.
When Allen watches the film of the game, he will want to turn away in a few instances.
He did finish with five total tackles, but most of them came after he was beaten in pass coverage.
Loser: CB, William Middleton
Middleton only recorded one tackle Friday night and is a loser coming out of this after he was beaten by Devery Henderson on a fade route for a touchdown.
Whether the touchdown should have counted or not is another issue, but Middleton was indeed beaten before the ball even got there. The play officially counted as a touchdown, meaning he gave up a score.
Loser: S, Chris Prosinski
Prosinski recorded five total tackles against the Saints, but like Allen, most came after big plays down the field.
Not to mention, Prosinski was the last line of defense on a 53-yard touchdown from Saints quarterback Chase Daniel to receiver Joseph Morgan.
Loser: Second Team Defensive Line
The first defensive line unit caused havoc for the Saints' offense during the first half.
The second unit, however, had some trouble.
The Saints ran the ball consistently well in the second half with the running back combination of Chris Ivory and Travaris Cadet.
The tandem combined for 71 yards on 13 carries. Cadet alone averaged 9.3 yards per carry.
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