The Jaguars take on the Falcons on Thursday in the final preseason game of 2020. It’s also the final audition for some players to make the team.
For some players on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster of this week’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons is the most important game of their lives.
This time next week, the front office and coaching staff will have narrowed the 90-man roster down to 53 players to begin the 2019 regular season. Rookies, free agents, and veterans are all fighting to show they belong here in North Florida.
Head coach Doug Marrone has said before that decisions made involving releasing players are some of the toughest things he does in his position. It can be agonizing. There isn’t enough room for everybody and with depth, a concern at certain positions, the coaching staff, and front office must decide which players are versatile enough to fill spots on special teams as well as their regular duties for this franchise.
It also means that the game on Thursday night will be one of the more intense games played during the preseason for many reserves.
That said, here are three veterans who are potential he fighting to remain on the roster.
Ben Koyack – I have been trying my best to play out a scenario where the Jaguars keep for tight ends on their roster. Admittedly, it’s been tough.
Given the areas of need for this team, tight end is one of the weaker positions, and with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has let the media know his intension to use tight ends in multiple sets, I would not be surprised if somehow Ben Koyack remains on this roster.
Koyack was released by the Jaguars last year and brought back because of injuries. He is mainly a blocking tight end who gives them very little in the passing game.
If Jacksonville does use a two-tight end set, with a strong emphasis on the running game, it makes more sense to keep four players at this position. But if one of the four players in camp must go, it will be the former seventh-round pick out of Notre Dame.
If Josh Oliver, the rookie out of San Jose State, isn’t ready to play next week and must go on the IR for eight games, it could be the best thing to happen for Koyack to remain on this roster.
Josh Wells – There are plenty of bodies on the offense of line for the Jaguars to choose from. The question is are there players who are making a name for themselves who will push a veteran off the roster?
If so, Josh Wells may be in jeopardy of keeping his back up job. The team re-signed wells this off-season because of his ability to play both tackle spots. He’s also been a spot starter and has shown the ability to step in and give the team depth when needed.
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"“A fifth-year veteran who originally signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft, Wells has worked primarily with the reserve offensive lines in the preseason,” writes John Oehser of Jaguars.com."
The Jaguars have Cam Robinson back as a starter at left tackle, with Cedric Ogbuehi as his primary back up. Wells is currently third on the depth chart but could move up depending on Ogbuehi’s injured hamstring.
"“I’ve got to focus on this week and playing to the best of my ability, playing with the guys beside me,” Wells said. “Just trust and know that God’s going to keep me here or put me somewhere else – whatever he wants to do.”"
Now I am not sure of that.
It would appear Cole will be the fifth pass catcher in the rotation, and because there are still questions about Marqise Lee and his playing time early in the season, the Jaguars may keep six wide receivers on the roster. C.J. Board has looked awfully good in camp and in practice and when given the opportunity during games, he has shown playmaking ability.
Board is the kind of player Marrone has talked about, the one who comes in the camp surprises everybody and pushes a veteran off the roster because he has outperformed them. It’s much like Cole was two seasons ago, who burst on the scene during training camp and wowed everybody.
Board is also a special teams candidate, which helps his stock in making the final 53. We must also take in the consideration as I said before, the Jaguars may try to keep four tight ends on the roster because of a need to establish the run game.
A lot of factors go into what’s going to happen with final cuts, but Pryor’s future may be one of the toughest decisions this team has to make.