Tonight is the night. The night that we have all been waiting for. The Jaguars will take the field tonight at 7:30 eastern time and begin the season that we have waited so long to begin.
It is a season of hope for fans, one that could only be better then last year. So as the ball is kicked off in Miami tonight, what players are pivotal to watch? Here is my list.
16. NEW JERSEYS AND HELMETS- how do they look in high definition...
15. Torry Holt- Reports indicate he looks like hes 25 not 33. If its true the Jags could have really discovered a gem worth more then it first seemed.
14.Vince Manuiawi- How will the once top notch guard play after tearing his ACL?
13. Paul Smith & Todd Bouman- The backup QB spot is in contention now. The question is simply if one can shine. If neither do the Jags may be forced to get a new backup QB. Maybe Mark Brunell?
12. Derek Cox- The rookie will get plenty of play time and looks to prove he is soon to be a top notch corner.
11. Derrick Harvey & Quentin Groves- The two defensive ends, especially Harvey have looked promising but now need to deliver like they were picked and payed to be.
Punters are football players too. And they can be very big in a game that is decided by field position. The battle between Adam Podlesh and Steve Weatherford, is one that will most likely be decided in preseason.
And the loser gets a nice release, because the Jags will not waste a roster spot on a backup punter.
Greg Jones has shown some ability to be a dominating fullback in the league, and actually become the best at his position in the NFL.
He has the ability to be a combo to MJD, and a combination of MJD Rashad Jennings and Greg Jones could be a lethal combination that would give the Jags, not a two, but a three headed monster.
And with Greg Jones it would simply be nothing but a monster.
For MJD he has to show that he is the same beast he has been over the years. Chris Johnson has not looked as good as advertised in the preseason, and a strong performance by MJD would just make Jags fans a huge sigh of relief.
Even though this really consists as three seprate playesr to watch its really one group to be lumped together.
First you have the battle for Free Saftey as Reggie Nelson will compete with Gerald Alexander for the rights for first string. Right now it is Reggie's to lose, however a exceptional performance by Alexander could cause even more doubt in the case for Nelson.
However, if Nelson has a solid performance, it would only solidify his position as starter on the team.
Shaun Considine has had a solid training camp, yet he is still adjusting to the heat of Florida. He was regarded as the most impressive safety in training camp, but Jim Johnson's funeral may have set him back a bit.
Marlon Mcree could possibly bring some competition, and if Considine doesn't play well at all Brian Willaims would be moved or possibly even Alexander. In the end however it is Considines job to lose.
1.Tra Thomas vs. Eugene Monroe
Eugene showed great signs after playing very well after coming into training camp and showing no signs of rust. However, he is going against a seasoned Pro-Bowl vet in Tra Thomas.
Although Eugene is not guaranteed to play, I would not be surprised to see him running reps with the second offense. If Thomas excels and shuts down the Miami rush then the Jags would have no trouble keeping him in.
2. Eben Britton vs. Tony Pashos
The more interesting of the two, Pashos has had a surprisingly solid training camp this season. Britton will receive plenty of playing time however, and is trying to catch up some ground with the veteran Pashos. Britton has passion, but can he match passion with results?
Personally I am possibly most excited about Jennings then any other player. To be destiny brought him to the Jaguars, and destiny will bring in a rising star, just as MJD was a few years ago.
What are the chances that he falls to the seventh round right into the Jags hands after working with the team in the North South game, after working with MJD in the offseason AND rooming with him?
Either way, Jennings has shown signs of being one of the biggest steals of this years draft. The question is how will he perform under the lights?
Henderson has slid farther and farther down as the years without Stroud have progressed. The question now is can he rebound? That will be determined tonight as the Jags go against a good running football team in the Miami Dolphins.
If Henderson can return to form the Jags defense will improve, in both the pass and run games.
Dillard has been suffering a so called case of the dropsies through training camp. As a receiver picked for his hands and vertical leap, it seems as if Dillard, if he does not improve could find himself on the practice squad or even cut.
Tonight Dillard will run the slot with first string, and it will be interesting to see if he can deliver under the lights. This could be a very important game for Dillard, as it may be his one chance to shine.
Nate Hughes on the other hand, is an unknown receiver looking to steal this spot away from Dillard. Hughes who has never actually made it to a preseason game, has been another star of training camp, and has gotten many reps with first string.
Hughes will also get to shine in the punt return, as Mike Thomas will not be present.
Its a huge opportunity for both; the question is who will shine brighter?
The Jaguars have been searching to replace Marcus Stroud for years now, and they have multiple DTs looking to be that guy. The question is, who is the best amongst them.
So far it seems as if the battle will come between A. Ellison and T. Knighton.
The two DTs have done well in training camp, but Ellison especially has caught the coaches eyes.
This could be mere speculation as Ellison has been cut by teams in the past, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in the lights.
Knighton is also impressing, and we will see how the big No. 96 plays in his first NFL game.
May the best man win.
This may be it for Mr. Williamson. If Troy Williamson continues his streak of drops, then he could be seeing nothing but a painful release.
However, reports from Jacksonville indicate that Williamson is having a strong training camp and could jump up and steal the slot receiver position from an injured Mike Thomas.
Yet, training camp is training camp, and although the saying is you practice like you play, we know that sometimes the lights can cause a couple mishaps or drops.
But if Williamson is to finally blossom into the receiver he was picked to be the Jaguars would be MORE then happy.
They would be ecstatic.
And there is reason to believe that Williamson could become a shining star if he could just catch the ball. Hes got the speed and youth to be a star in the NFL some day.
In fact, before being injured in '08 he was actually showing some signs of improvement.
David Garrard may be linked to the success of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In fact I believe his performance can determine the record of the Jags.
In '06 when he played decent but not great when stepping in for Leftwich, the Jaguars didn't make the playoffs but didnt have a terrible record none the less.
In '07, when he had a year of only three interceptions, the Jaguars may have had their best season since 1999 and could have had a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl if it hadn't been for a Patriots team that only had destiny and the New York Giants to defeat them.
In '08, however, Garrard had a subpar season, and the Jags had a sub par result. In conclusion, Garrard's performance in '09 seems to be directly parallel to the Jaguars' record overall.
Not only is this true, but David has been up and down in training camp. After a so-so start, reports indicate that Garrard has risen to his criticism and was having a very good second half of training camp.
Now which David will come and play under the lights? Time would suggest the second, but the first could also come along as well.