The NFL preseason is like diet, caffeine-free football. It looks like regular football but there is definitely something missing and it really won’t keep you up all night. That being said Steeler Nation can look forward to seeing the “varsity team” out for a couple of series against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin explained after Wednesday’s practice that all healthy players will see some action in Friday night’s game with the starters most likely playing a couple of series before they are taken out.
To get the intel on what the Steelers can expect from the Jacksonville Jaguars, I teamed up with Daniel Lago, editor of Black and Teal, FanSided’s Jacksonville Jaguars page. Daniel gave me answers to five questions about the Jaguars.
How many of the Jaguars starters will take the field on Friday night and how much time do you think they’ll play?
I expect all of the Jaguars starters to take the field on Friday. The only exceptions are players with lingering injuries – that means Marqise Lee won’t play and the team may decide to give second round pick T.J. Yeldon a little bit more time to recover from a his hand injury sustained during the team’s scrimmage last Saturday.
I think the starters on offense will stay on long enough to get a solid drive under their belt, so hopefully no more than two drives. I don’t expect the starters on defense to last past the first quarter.
What does the addition of Julius Thomas do to the Jaguars offense?
The addition of Julius Thomas has done wonders. Reports from practice indicate he was the best player on the team the moment he stepped onto the practice field. The Jaguars are utilizing more two tight end sets and really trying to exploit mismatches in the secondary now that they have someone like Thomas in their stable of weapons.
Staying on the offense, what is the running back situation for the Jaguars? Will there be a clear starter by Week 1 or will it be a committee between Yeldon, Robinson and Gerhart?
That’s an interesting question, especially after the team trotted out Denard Robinson with the first team during the scrimmage. I wouldn’t be shocked if the team eases Yeldon into a more significant workload throughout the season rather than just pounding him into the ground week 1. I expect the team to spread the carries out quite a bit, at least early on in the year.
What is the outlook for the Jaguars this season?
This is the first season in a while where I think the Jaguars have a fairly solid floor. I find it hard to believe this team wins less than 5 games this year given the talent they have accumulated over the past 3 seasons with general manager David Caldwell.
That said the Jaguars have a much more nebulous ceiling. The outlook for the Jaguars in 2015 rests almost solely on the shoulders of Blake Bortles. If all the work he did in the offseason to improve his mechanics and hone his craft translates to even average quarterback play, the Jaguars could flirt with 9 or so wins and a wild card berth.
What is your prediction for Friday’s game?
It’s the preseason so the final score doesn’t matter, but I guess I’ll throw one out there and say the Jaguars win 28 – 24. Chad Henne is theoretically a better quarterback than Landry Jones, and the backup quarterbacks are going to get a lot of playing time on Friday.
You can read my responses to his questions about the Steelers right here.
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