As the Jacksonville Jaguars came off the field after their first of two joint practices with the Minnesota Vikings, head coach Doug Marrone made it clear this team is here to get better.
As a team, the Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing for their second game of the preseason with one of the best teams in the NFL. The only thing something like this can do is aid the franchise’s quest in reaching their final destination of Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta. For Doug Marrone and his troops, this means total concentration on this week before moving forward.
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"“That’s something we’ve talked about to our team before: ‘We don’t want to talk across the ball,’ meaning we’re just here to get better,” Marrone said on Wednesday after practice at the Vikings practice facility.“We’re here to compete, get better, get an evaluation and go out and get work.”"
The work becomes tougher with each growing week. First, it was the New Orleans Saints. Now, it’s the NFC North Champions and one of the best defenses in the NFL. It’s a progression Marrone and his coaching staff is working on and the players on the field are putting the gameplan into action.
The Jaguars have put the events of last weekend behind them and now look to even their preseason record at 1-1. To do that they face a team that dominates on defense and has speed at the skill positions on offense. Here are three things to watch Saturday at Minnesota.
How Blake Bortles Performs
Although he looked good in one series in the opening game against New Orleans, quarterback Blake Bortles still needs more reps with the first team offense.
The fifth-year starter will face a very good Vikings secondary and power up front from their pass rush. For the most part, everything Bortles has done this offseason has been controlled and against his own teammates. Minnesota presents another challenge.
Bortles has had a much better camp this season than last year. The wrist that bothered him all last season is healed and healthy. It’s time to see what he can do in a live game for more than five minutes on the field.
Corey Grant On A Fast Carpet
I say this because I want to see Corey Grant become a bigger part of this offense. Each of the three running backs – along with Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon – bring something different to the offense.
The preseason may not move Grant ahead of Yeldon on the depth chart, but it could showcase him as another valuable weapon for Nathaniel Hackett’s system. Grant is one of the fastest players on the team and in the NFL.
If Grant gets loose Saturday, he could turn a small play into a big gain.
More Leon Jacobs
Like I said in a previous story, there is no competition for the outside linebacker job. Leon Jacobs has come in as a seventh-round rookie out of Wisconsin and stolen it away from the other competitors.
I love the fact he has picked up the scheme quickly and looks good in base formation. He is quick, strong and looks like he could knock down a wall with his size.
The Jaguars have done well to find late-round and free agent gems lately. Jacobs continues that trend. Let’s see how he does in coverage against a fast group of running backs and pass catchers.