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What We Learned

Posted Aug 11, 2012

Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ 32-31 preseason victory over the New York Giants Friday.

1) Blaine Gabbert has a chance. People around training camp had seen it. People who hadn’t been around training camp found it hard to believe. If you watched the first three series Friday, it was clear: Gabbert still has progress to make, but that progress is happening.

2) The offensive line must protect better. Cameron Bradfield had some rough plays in his first start at right tackle. As Head Coach Mike Mularkey said, this group basically was put together in the last two days. It showed at times Friday, but there’s time. Pass blocking is usually the last thing to come together.

3) The line can run block. Well, duh.

4) Bryan Anger can punt the ball very, very high and very, very far. I spoke to Anger after the game. He wasn’t thrilled with his mishits. He thinks he’ll improve. “It was a decent start,” he said. He punted six times for a 47.7-yard average. If this was an average game, the Jaguars would take average. He had two long, high punts that led to muffs, and his punts were mostly hard to return. He’s not perfect yet, but he’s good. Really good.

5) Rashad Jennings is fine. This team is better with Maurice Jones-Drew, but they can run the ball without him. The offensive line is a big reason. Rashad Jennings is another. He’s big. He’s fast. He can run. Wish for Jones-Drew to come back if you want, but after Friday, you don’t have to stress as much as you might have thought.

6) Osi Umenyiora is capable of bad decisions. The Giants’ defensive end got into a post-play tiff with Greg Jones. People keep doing this. I know not why.

7) Brian Robiskie has a chance. The coaches and personnel people have liked this guy since he signed last November. On Friday, we saw why.

8) Mike Thomas’ demise may have been exaggerated. The wide receiver had struggled at times in camp, but credit Thomas for this: when the lights came on Friday, he made plays.

9) D’Anthony Smith may be back. He knows he has to stay at it, but he had a sack Friday and said he felt quick and strong. This is a guy who missed his first two seasons with injuries and knows he needs to stay healthy and play well.

10) Cecil Shorts is moving in the right direction. The second-year receiver was more irritated with himself over a fumbled reverse than happy with a first-drive touchdown. “I just have to hold it high and tight,” he said. “I was frustrated by that, but I was over it quick.” The important thing about Shorts Friday wasn’t the miscue; it was that he continued to show what he has shown in camp – that he can get open consistently and is fitting in as one of the top four receivers.

11) Jordan Palmer? Pretty good? The third-team quarterback looked comfortable and confident. He had shown this in practice in camp, and it translated to the field.

12) The Jaguars like their coach after all. Remember all the disconnect stuff on the NFL Network last week? The players on Friday awarded Mularkey with a game ball. They also continued to laugh at the ridiculousness of the idea that somehow . . . oh, forget it. The Heath Evans stuff last week? It was silly. It was inaccurate. It was ridiculous. Mularkey is connecting with players, and this thing is going in the right direction. If we learned anything overall Friday, it was that.

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