The Jacksonville Jaguars will get a second opportunity to play a preseason game against a potential Super Bowl contender. Will the first team offense and defense fare well against the Minnesota Vikings?
The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Minnesota Vikings will have been through two joint practices before their preseason matchup Saturday. As head coach Doug Marrone explained to the media earlier this week, opportunities like these give the staff more chances to evaluate talent.
Playing against one of the best defenses in the league and a highly explosive offense should serve as a barometer of where the Jaguars are now after two preseason games. Linebacker Telvin Smith spoke with the media following the team’s first practice saying he thought it was a solid way of starting things off.
"“It was good; it was good,” Smith said following a two-and-half-hour practice with Minnesota.“It was great seeing new competition and being able to go against their [running] backs. They were great looks, so they pushed us. It was good.”"
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Smith and the defense will be without both Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler this week. That should not slow down this unit, which was one of the best in the league last year. But as everyone knows, so was Minnesota, a unit that finished first in overall defense to the Jaguars second-place ranking.
While the defense does get a shot in the arm with the return of defensive end Calais Campbell, who sat out the game against New Orleans and possibly rookie defensive end Taven Bryan, who has been dealing with an abdominal injury, there are other players who are keys to this game this Saturday.
Here is a look at three players to look for when the Jaguars face the Vikings in Minnesota.
Again, Tyler Patmon benefits from Jalen Ramsey not being able to play or practice. The cornerback looked strong in OTAs and was solid the first few days of training camp while Ramsey was away from the birth of his daughter.
On Wednesday, Patmon played opposite A.J. Bouye, but also played in the nickel while D.J. Hayden filled in for Ramsey’s spot. I suspect both players will do the same in the practice on Thursday and in the game on Saturday.
Patmon will make this roster, but he could beat out the free agent signee Hayden for the nickel corner spot. This is another test for him this preseason.
I want to see more of the big tight end. Austin Seferian-Jenkins looked like a beast in OTAs and minicamp and has been a little less visible in the Jaguars offense in training camp.
This might be his chance to make people notice him again. With the Minnesota secondary featuring both Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith, Seferian-Jenkins could become the go-to player in passing situations.
There is no doubt the former free agent is the starter at the tight end position. I would like to see more of him in passing situations.
There was supposed to be a competition for the final starting outside linebacker spot. Leon Jacobs, a rookie out of Wisconsin, has closed the door on all challengers.
Jacobs has lined up in base coverage as a SAM linebacker and looks fluid with this defense next to Smith and Myles Jack. His size, his speed, and his cover ability make him a natural in this spot.
While he only played in 14 snaps against the Saints last week, Jacobs was all over the field. How will he do this week on a fast carpet against another team with speed to burn?