The Jacksonville Jaguars are set to take the field against the New Orleans Saints in preseason action tonight at TIAA Bank Field, kicking off at 7 P.M.
Expect the starters for both teams to play sparingly, most likely only the first drive or two of the game. This is typical in week one of the preseason, as teams begin to play their starters more in weeks two and three. Rather than being entertained by the Jaguars’ elite starting defense and intriguing, run-heavy offense, fans will be getting a glimpse at the depth that the team has built this offseason.
With that being said, who are three players for Jaguars fans to keep their eyes on tonight against the Saints?
WR D.J. Chark Jr.
The Jaguars’ promising rookie receiver and star of training camp will be working with the second team during the team’s first preseason game of 2018. While he may receive snaps here and there with Blake Bortles and the first team, Chark is listed as Marqise Lee’s backup on the Jaguars’ first unofficial depth chart.
Chark was labeled as a project receiver out of LSU, with one full season of starting experience and a limited route tree, but full of potential with intriguing size and athletic measurables. However, he was lights-out in Jaguars training camp: During the eight days Locked On Jaguars was present at camp, Chark recorded 16 catches on seven types of routes all over the field. Those routes being go-routes (4), slants (4), posts (3), corners (2), flats (2), curls (1), and screens (1).
While mainly working with the second team in camp, Chark developed solid chemistry with backup quarterback Cody Kessler, who will be the team’s second team QB going forward. Considering Chark was a favorite target of Kessler’s, expect the two to connect on a couple passes against the Saints tonight.
Safety Ronnie Harrison
Another rookie to keep an eye on is Jaguars third round pick Ronnie Harrison out of Alabama. The heir-apparent to Barry Church at strong safety has received raving reviews from veteran teammates in camp to date.
Harrison has made several flashy plays with the Jaguars’ second and third team defense, notably pass breakups in redzone drills and making sound run stops coming down from the deep level of the field. He has also had a role with the special teams.
Despite the Jaguars signing to veteran safeties in free agency in Don Carey and Cody Davis this year, Harrison has has put himself in the drivers’ seat to be the team’s third safety out the gate, on top of a major special teams role. He has the flexibility to cover deep as well as be a playmaker in the tackle box, and will likely be matching up against Saints receivers Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre’Quan Smith in the middle of the field as the game goes on.
RB Corey Grant
Grant will most likely receive the majority of the Jaguars second team reps at running back, with T.J. Yeldon being incorporated into the first team as a pass-down back. That isn’t to say Yeldon won’t get carries with the second team, but this should be Grant’s time to shine.
Grant has been with the team for three years, with a minimal role in the offense and holding down the kick-return job. He has tallied 68 carries, 414 yards and three touchdowns in his career as one of the Jaguars change of pace backs, and is expected to take on a bigger role in the offense after receiving a second round tender worth $2.9 million in March.
The Jaguars released veteran running back Chris Ivory after a disappointing two year stint, and although Leonard Fournette looks to grow in his second season as the Jaguars’ bell-cow RB, there are carries to be had for Yeldon and Grant to take with Ivory off the team. Grant offers special speed at the position and the ability to make defenders miss with an arsenal of rushing moves that Fournette and Yeldon don’t necessarily offer.
With Grant’s role expected to grow in the Jaguars offense, look for him to receive a bulk of carries throughout the preseaon as the team begins to carve out his role, starting tonight against New Orleans.
Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca
The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.
The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.
Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.
We have promoted rookie LB @N_DeLuca49 to the 53-man active roster from the practice squad.
To make room on the roster, we released 11th-year RB Jamaal Charles. pic.twitter.com/OmiHd2wtvZ
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) October 22, 2018
Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin
In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.
Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.
And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.
“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”
In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.
“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.
In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.
And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.
Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.
Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”
The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.
This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.
Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB
24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”
This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.
Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.
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