The Jacksonville Jaguars begin their 2014 campaign on Friday night as they face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their first preseason game. Even though it’s only an exhibition contest, it’s the first football we’ve seen in a while and it will be the first time we’ll get a chance to see a lot of the fresh, young faces in Jacksonville.
Since we don’t really care about whether or not the Jaguars win tomorrow, what should we be paying attention to? Well here are few guys to keep your eye on Friday night:
Blake Bortles, Quarterback
Let’s start off with the easy and obvious choice. General manager David Caldwell spent the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on his franchise quarterback – Blake Bortles out of UCF. Publicly, the plan has been to sit Bortles in 2014 in favor of Chad Henne, and let Blake get ready or 2015. We’ve had every reason to believe the team is genuine about their desire to sit Bortles, but all indications are Bortles is much closer to being ready and better than Henne sooner rather than later. If Bortles can come in during the preseason and impress the coaches and the staff, then he might work his way into the starting lineup within the first few weeks if not the regular season opener.
Marqise Lee, Wide Receiver
I know, not really going out on a limb here with the 2nd round pick Marqise Lee, but he might be a vital part of the offense sooner than we expected. Due to a slew of injuries, Lee is going to be the number 1 option at receiver on Friday. Lee was the top wide receiver in college football in his sophomore season, and he’s expected to play more like that guy than what he was as a junior at USC.
Denard Robinson, Running Back
Toby Gerhart is expected to be the primary running back in 2014, but he’s going to miss at least the first preseason game with a hip flexor. This means the rest of the backs are going to get plenty of opportunities, and the most intriguing guy in the bunch is former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Shoelace had a rough transition to the NFL in 2013, and his issues with drops and ball security kept him out of the lineup. He was dealing with a hand injury that affected him throughout his rookie year, but now he’s healthy and has been a standout in training camp. This preseason is huge for Denard, as he could potentially prove himself as a viable option at running back and as a playmaker in general.
– Daniel Lago