The Jacksonville Jaguars face the Minnesota Vikings in the second preseason game for both teams on Saturday at 1 PM at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The defense may have dominated the first joint practice for both teams, but the second day was about a better offensive output for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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"“Today was definitely better than it was yesterday,” Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said when he talked with the media after practice on Thursday via Jaguars.com."
The matchup today could be a preview of Super Bowl 53 as both teams lost in their respective conference championships games. Known for having the two best defenses in the NFL last season, the Jaguars and the Vikings have offenses that are quick and have big-play ability with each snap of the ball.
Here are four things I want to see from the Jaguars from this game.
How Taven Bryan Plays
This will be the rookie’s first NFL preseason game. The first round draft pick out of Florida missed the game against the New Orleans Saints last week with an abdominal strain. He may not get a lot of reps in this week, but a steady dose of NFL contact should do him good.
Taven Bryan has been playing on the end, spelling Calais Campbell and could be a valuable backup on both sides of the ball. Bryan, who played inside in college, could also become part of the tackle rotation.
First Unit vs. First Unit
Bortles looked good in his only series of the game last week. I want to see him play as effectively for a half of football.
The Saints defense was good, but the Vikings defense is better. Much better. How will he handle the pass rush? Will he give receivers time to get open? How does this match up against Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith look on the field?
We have made a big deal about how good No. 5 has looked in practice and how his throwing motion is better. Now, he gets to show it off on a fast track against one of the best secondaries in the league.
The Running Game
Leonard Fournette got a handful of carries for the Jaguars last week. He figures to get more this week. I am not worried about No. 27 running the football. He is leaner and appears to be quicker to the hole than he was last season.
I want to see more out of the backs behind him.
Grant is a quick runner who hits the hole quickly and gets to the second level better than most in the NFL. His size is something the Jaguars use effectively in the passing game and special teams as well.
Head coach Doug Marrone has done a solid job of keeping the remainder of the roster focused on this week. I want to see how the Jaguars play without the All-Pro Ramsey and how they continue to adjust without Fowler in the lineup.
My sense is the team will do just fine. Should there be a long pass thrown against Tyler Patmon or D.J. Hayden that results in a touchdown in the first half, the loss of Ramsey may be questioned a bit by the national media.