The Jacksonville Jaguars play host to the St. Louis Rams tonight in their pre-season finale. The Jaguars will likely play most of their healthy starters for a longer period than we’ve seen in years past. Mostly, I think it’s a measure to continue to get the team up to speed, but it also may be a way of getting both David Garrard and Blaine Gabbert into the game with the first team defense. This game has more to watch than most pre-season finales do, and that’s not the only bit of good news. The NFL regular season is just 7 days away.
5) Backups, Backups, Backups
There are a lot of guys playing for roster spots or spots on the Jaguars’ practice squad tonight. You shouldn’t be leaving the game or turning the channel after the first half. You should watch these guys play, because; you never know when one of them will be called upon to step up in the regular season.
4) Maurice Jones-Drew
He says he’s ready to go, and I believe him. I doubt he’ll get many carries or stay in the game for an extended period of time, but I’ll be watching him closely. I expect nothing less than the MJD of the past and then some once the season starts.
3) Aaron Kampman
Again, I’m not sure how much Kampman will play, but if and when he gets into the game, I’ll be watching the pass rush. The Jaguars would sure like to sack the quarterback, but the real point is disruption. If the defensive line looks like it did against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, I’ll be happy.
2) Offensive Line
These guys have struggled throughout the pre-season, and they’ll need to pick it up before the Jaguars play the Titans week 1. I’ll be watching how they look run blocking for MJD, and I’ll also be watching for how well they block for the quarterbacks. David Garrard handles pressure better than Gabbert, so; that makes it that much more interesting.
1) David Garrard and Blaine Gabbert
My weekly “5 Things to Watch” list just isn’t complete without mentioning these two guys. As much as I wish Luke McCown had a real chance to compete for the job, these two guys are the only two with a chance at starting week 1, barring injury of course. I’m not really sure who has the upper hand at the moment, but a strong showing from one, and a weak showing from the other, could be enough to tip the scales one way or the other.