Continuing in our Preseason series, we're going over five Jacksonville Jaguars storylines that Jaguar fans should be following over the next few weeks.
5. How will the young guys on the offensive line develop?
With General Manager Gene Smith's first two draft picks in the 2009 NFL Draft, he selected offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. They were to become the two cornerstones of a franchise in rebuilding. Going into their third year in the league, they are expected to take the next step and become elite tackles in the league. So far, Eugene Monroe, has been erratic, looking dominant in some games and poor in others, but nobody can deny his potential. Eben Britton has a reputation of playing with a bit of a mean streak. However, last year, he sustained a shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of the year. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from injury, but unfortunately, he won't be playing in the first preseason game due to a back injury. Another player to watch is 3rd round 2011 NFL Draft pick, Will Rackley, who will be probably be starting at LG. so, like I said in the "five rookies to watch" list, let's see how the rookie can fare against the likes of Albert Hayneswoth and Vince Wilfork.
4. Who will start opposite of Dawan Landry at free safety?
Safety was among the most needy positions for the Jaguars going into the free agency period. Now that the position has been addressed with the signing of Dawan Landry (who, according to the depth chart, will be playing at Free safety), the question is who will be playing next to him? Courtney Greene has shown promise last year at strong safety, being able to effectively tackle, especially in the running game. The Jaguars may have been 22nd in running defense in 2010, but during the magical period between Week 8 and Week 13, the Jaguars did not allow a single 100-yard rusher, despite facing some of the best rushers in the league (Marion Barber, Arian Foster, Peyton Hillis, Chris Johnson). In fact, only one rusher eclipsed the 60-yard mark (Brandon Jacobs).Courtney Greene was injured in the Titans game and the difference in the run defense was clear. In the next two weeks, Darren McFadden and Donald Brown (To everyone's shock, of course) ran wild, each going for over 100 yards rushing as they put dagger after dagger into the collective hearts of Jaguar fans.(Please resist the urge to punch in your computer monitor) However, there is another young talent in Chris Prosinski, who also has an ability to wrap up on tackles and rally to the football. It will be an interesting matchup to follow.
3. How much has the defense improved over the offseason?
The Jaguars defense as a whole was suspect last season, but with the three big free agency additions to the Jaguars defense, the Jaguars have a chance to show people in Jacksonville and around the league that the days of a nasty and stingy defense are back in Jacksonville, The defense showed signs of improvement during the scrimmage, but the answers will be revealed during the preseason.
2. Which receivers will stand out during the preseason?
Everybody knows that the Jaguars receiving corps is not filled with a bunch of household names. Sure, everybody knows the exploits of Mike Thomas, but past Thomas and Jason Hill there are nine players competing for three or four roster spots: A couple of third-year draft picks like Jarett Dillard and Tiquan Underwood who are trying to fight back after two disappointing first seasons, players like Kassim Osgood and Cecil Shorts who have been brought in to prove that they can compete at this level, and a bunch of undrafted free agents like Jamar Newsome, Armon Binns, and Greg Ellingson who are trying to make themselves a roster spot for this team. This should be a fun preseason to watch.
1. How will Blaine Gabbert deal with being a starter in the first preseason game in his career?
Again, it's not really much of a competition. Having a future franchise QB trumps all other stories. It will be interesting if the Blaine Train tears it up against the Patriots, and makes a competition out of training camp. But enough speculation, let's get this football season started!!!
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