This week the Jaguars travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings in their week one matchup. Aside from story lines that we are looking to watch for, such as Blaine Gabbert coming in as new and improved and Adrian Peterson and his cloudy come back, week one features two match ups that could make or break the Jaguars this week.
The first match up happens to appear on the offensive line. While the offensive line has been through their bumps and bruises, Cameron Bradfield has emerged as the new starting right tackle. While Bradfield has played well and topped former starter Guy Whimper, Bradfield will have a tough matchup as he will now be facing defensive end Brian Robison, who finished off his last season with a break out eight sacks and three forced fumbles, a career best. This was also his first year starting the entire season with only a few starts in 2007 and 2010. Bradfield has also had limited experience, only two career starts last season, so it will be interesting to see if Bradfield can stand his ground and block as well as he has in the preseason, considering Eugene Monroe will have his hands full with Jared Allen on the opposite end.
Now turning over to the defensive side of the field, Andre Branch will start opposite Jeremy Mincey at left defensive end. At 6’5” 265 lbs, Branch has great size and speed and has stopped the run better than first predicted. However he will now go against the mammoth Phil Loadholt who is 6’8” 343 lbs. Loadholt was drafted in the 2009 with Eugene Monroe, but was not taken until the second round. Loadholt has anchored the right tackle position for the past three years, starting in every game he has played in. It is vital that Branch can compete against the run, especially if Adrian Peterson is playing.
Be sure to check out this week’s Jaguars podcast here.
– Antonio Furgiuele