Are you ready for some Jaguars football? I know there are starters who have waited long enough to get on the field and play some ball.
The anticipation of seeing starters playing for the Jaguars tonight as they take on the Miami Dolphins is something fans here in Duval County have waited for since the team signed quarterback Nick Foles to a hefty deal this offseason.
Finally, in my best “The Rock” voice – the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to not only put Foles on the field, but other key players on both sides of the ball will get a chance to lace them up and hit someone from another team.
I will go on record stating I agree with the strategy of the Jaguars coaching staff as long as it benefits the team. If Jacksonville cannot put together wins this season and look like the team it did in 2018, then we all have a reason to question the direction Doug Marrone chose to travel before the start of the preseason.
This will be the biggest learning experience for this franchise since it drafted Blake Bortles third overall in 2014.
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If the Jaguars are going to be successful in 2019, players who did not perform up to expectations last season or are coming back from injury must prove they are a benefit to this roster. Also, free agents who were brought in back in March need to continue progressing to make this roster. Here is a look at four players to watch Thursday night in Miami.
Cam Robinson – I should probably write the entire starting offensive line, but if there is a player to watch the most, it is Cam Robinson in the left side.
"“It’s great to have him back,” offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said when he met with the media earlier this week. “He loves football. He brings an energy to the field. He was really great when he was hurt – being enthusiastic and those things. But I like seeing him out there enthusiastic playing. We’re really happy to have him back for sure.”"
Thomas Rawls – The Jaguars announcement that they had reached an injury settlement with running back Benny Cunningham opened the door for Thomas Rawls to walk right in. It would have been difficult for the free agent to make the roster under other circumstances.
Rawls is a shifty runner who gives the Jaguars another dimension to the run game and he could be valuable in third-down situations. The team has announced that Alfred Blue will not play this week and that rookie running back Ryquell Armstead has passed the concussion protocol. Look for DeFilippo to find a way to get Rawls more carries this week in the second half of the game.
The speed Rawls shows is something the team lacked last season and he could become a Corey Grant-type of player for this team.
I believe the Jaguars keep three tight ends on the roster this season. Swaim and Oliver are locks to make the team. I think O’Shaughnessy is the third guy with Koyack on the outside looking in. Both need to play more consistently in the next two weeks to make a lasting impression.
O’Shaughnessy led the team’s tight ends in catches last season. Koyack was a player the team released and then brought back during the season. If DeFilippo continues to use a two-tight end set for the running game, it is possible both still make the roster.
Since there is no fullback on the roster, the tight end position is also more important to the scheme the coaching staff wants to run this season.
Jawaan Taylor – I am excited to see what he can do on the field this week after coming back from an injury. Jawaan Taylor is being counted on to win the starting right tackle job but has some competition from Cedric Ogbuehi. This is a good test for him playing against the Dolphins defense.
The idea of all five starters in the game at the same time isn’t something the Jaguars have had since Week 2 of the season in 2018.
"“We’ll see how it plays out,” Marrone said when he talked to the media this week. “You put a lot of stuff in your mind of what you’re looking to see. Just like all you guys: I’m anxious and curious to see what maybe we’re doing well. There are probably a lot of things we need to work on in these next couple of weeks before the season starts.”"