The Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers in the final preseason game of for both teams. The Jaguars still have plenty of work to do before the team makes its final cuts to the 53-man roster.
You get the sense Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone still wants to see more out of his starters before the regular season begins next week against the New York Giants. First, the coaching staff has some unfinished business in determining who fills the final spots on the 53-man roster.
What that simply means is there are a few players the team must evaluate in the final preseason game of the year at Tampa Bay before it can make those decisions. For those players on the bubble or who need more reps, this is an important game.
For the starters, this is just a formality. Standing on the sideline for three hours, enjoying conversation amongst teammates and cheering on hopefuls is part of the process.
The same things hold true for the Buccaneers, whose coaching staff is in the same position with plenty of decisions to make.
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Here are four things to watch for tonight from Raymond James Stadium.
Dante Fowler Will Play
The man with the most to gain (and lose) this season with the Jaguars, Dante Fowler, will be in action. The defensive end has missed valuable reps on the field with an injury that kept him out of OTAs and minicamp and then was suspended for the week of the Minnesota game for violating team rules.
There is no chance the Jaguars cut the 24-year-old, but they do need for him to become more acclimated for the second game of the season. Fowler was suspended for the first regular season game of the year for violating the league’s conduct policy.
Fowler knows this is a huge season for him, whether he remains in Jacksonville or takes his talent elsewhere in the offseason. He will play in this game, but the coaching staff has not determined how many snaps he will get.
Will Richardson Still Needs Some Seasoning
Will Richardson, the fourth-round draft pick out of North Carolina State, has been MIA at times in training camp. He figures to get a long look with the starters and should play into the second half.
He was brought in to work behind Jermey Parnell at right tackle, but there were some (including myself) who thought he could play inside at guard and replace A.J. Cann. Now, it’s a matter of getting the rookie into game situations to help him with progression.
Richardson is one of those guys who may have been a disappointment this training camp. He needs a big game this week to help his confidence and consistency on the field.
Fifth and Sixth Wide Receivers
Each wide receiver brings a different skill set to this unit. Because of the injury to Marqise Lee, Greene and Mickens figure to make the 53-man roster. Lazard and Wynn may be headed to the practice squad.
Both Greene and Mickens can return punts, which make them valuable on special teams. Wynn was part of the return teams in practice as well. I doubt he sneaks in and grabs a roster spot, but it also would not surprise me.
Defensive Line Depth
Dimick has had a good camp and could be a valuable fringe player. Ankou has been battling injuries. Bennett continues to remain on this roster. I like this kind of situation where one or two spots are open with three or more players in the mix.
Watch the defensive line tonight. This will be one of the better units on the field.