What to Watch for during the Jacksonville Jaguars' Preseason
After two Jacksonville Jaguars games, it's clear that the Jags still have some work to do. Some positions are clear, David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashean Mathis; all of their jobs are safe.
What we're waiting to see is how the new players will fare, and what improvements have been made after last season's disappointing failure.
The Wide Receivers
The Jags will be hoping newly-acquired receiver Torry Holt can make an immediate impact, the way the assumed Jerry Porter would last year. They are also counting on a completely different outcome.
There is also fourth-year WR Troy Williamson, who is looking to show that he is not a bust in the NFL after being drafted seventh overall by the Minnesota Vikings in 2005.
The Jags are high on him after a fantastic training camp, and he has recently shown that he no longer is plagued by constant dropped balls. He has fantastic speed and can finally provide the Jags with the deep threat that they've been missing all of these years.
The Backup Running Backs
The backup running back position appears to be between Alvin Pearman and Rashad Jennings. Pearman began his career with the Jags, and is back for a second stint in his four-year career.
Jennings is the exciting young rookie that the Jags are high on because of his good character, as well as an exceptional ability to play the game.
Regardless of who wins the job, Maurice Jones-Drew will get the majority of the carries. Due to his explosive style of play, he will surely take a great deal of punishment in his first season as the No. 1 option.
This will be an important battle to see who is most capable of giving Jones-Drew a breather.
The Rebuilt O-Line
Last season, the Jaguars were decimated by injuries, especially on their offensive line. This offseason, Jacksonville has made rebuilding its line a top priority.
In the draft, they took Eugene Monroe with the eighth overall pick. He is praised for his pass-blocking abilities, and has been compared to Walter Jones.
Monroe had a brief holdout over contract disputes (as most rookies do), but is now with the Jags and they are hoping he can be their starter for years to come.
Along with Monroe, offensive tackle Tra Thomas was brought in to help bolster their depth. He is a three-time Pro Bowler, and should help Monroe develop into a stronger player.
He should be starting on Opening Day, but he should always be watching for Monroe, who will be waiting in the wings.
Vince Manuwai is another offensive lineman who is looking to rebound after a disappointing season where he went down with a knee injury in the season opener, ending his season.
He spent his time off working on his strength and conditioning, and is now 30 pounds lighter. So far this preseason, his knee has felt 100 percent.
The Jags' defense, once one of the best in the league, has taken a dramatic retooling this past offseason. Gone are the likes of Drayton Florence and former captain Mike Peterson, with youth being a cornerstone for the future of the Jags' defense.
Justin Durant should be taking over for Mike Peterson, as he enters his third season in the league. He has big shoes to fill, but the Jags seem high on him, enough to think that they could let Peterson go.
The linebackers should be expected to be worse this season, but if Durant can come on strong, they can weather the storm.
Derrick Harvey, Jacksonville’s eighth overall selection last year, should have a more prominent role this year. He fell down the depth charts last year, after an extensive holdout, but being in camp from Day One should help his chances of snagging a starting spot on the defensive line.
He is an explosive player, who the Jags will be looking to in order to pressure the opposition into costly mistakes.
Sean Considine, acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles, should have a starting spot this upcoming season. It remains to be seen what role he will play, but he has big playmaking capabilities and should be an interesting prospect.
When all is said and done, Jacksonville should be battling for survival in a tough AFC South. If they can capitalize on a fairly reasonable schedule, they could sneak into the playoffs, but unfortunately for Jags fans, it looks bleak.
Look for this preseason to show where the Jacksonville Jaguars stand heading into Opening Day. That's the fun of football though, you never know.
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