JACKSONVILLE – The full cast won't be there for the dress rehearsal.
But while the Jaguars as expected ruled out a slew of players for the third game of the preseason – a list that includes running back Toby Gerhart – the objective remains the same:
Make Friday's game against Detroit as close to a real game as possible.
"This our big one (preseason game)," middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said Wednesday following a walkthrough practice as the Jaguars prepared to play the Lions at EverBank Field Friday at 8 p.m.
"We've tried to mimic an in-season game week. We'll scheme a little bit more and we watched a little more film, so this is our big one. We say, 'Hey, we want to be really sharp here and make sure we're ready to go heading into the season.'"
For the defense, Posluszny said that means being stout all around.
"We want to be really good against the run, and we want to eliminate explosive plays," Posluszny said. "We want to be really solid limiting the explosive plays."
NFL teams typically treat the third preseason game like a dress rehearsal for the regular season. Head Coach Gus Bradley said while the Jaguars usually base preseason playing time upon number of plays, the idea in the third preseason game is to have the starters play into the second half.
"The ideal would be for them to go in at halftime, then come back out and get some plays in the second half so they get used to coming out of the locker room," Bradley said.
Starters typically play a quarter or less in the preseason opener, into the second quarter in Preseason Week 2 then less than that – if at all – in the preseason finale.
Gerhart, a veteran running back, was among 12 players officially ruled out Wednesday for Friday's game. He sustained an abdominal strain against the New York Giants this past Saturday.
"It's a strain, so he needs time this week," Bradley said. "Next week we'll see how it goes, but he should be ready Week 1."
Rookie safety James Sample, who missed the first two preseason games returning from a broken arm sustained during the team's offseason program in May, is expected to be a game-time decision. Linebacker Khairi Fortt (knee) also is expected to be a game-time decision.
"Everything's good with his arm," Bradley said of Sample, a fourth-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. "He just has to go out there and get some hits in. We tried to get him some in practice this week, whether it's taking on a block … It's still a comfort level, but my hope is that he plays.''
The Jaguars also ruled out 11 other players:
Wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), wide receiver Greg Jenkins (high-ankle sprain), cornerback Peyton Thompson (hamstring), cornerback Demetrius McCray (knee), safety Johnathan Cyprien (finger), linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (knee), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (knee), offensive tackle Josh Wells (hand), tight end Julius Thomas (hand), wide receiver Neal Sterling (hamstring) and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee).
Cyprien and Thomas and Lee have been out since the preseason opener and aren't expected to play the rest of the preseason. Fowler sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in rookie camp and is expected to be placed on injured reserve before the season. Marks has been on the Physically Unable to Perform list throughout training camp and continues to target a return in the September 13 regular-season opener against Carolina.
Also on Wednesday, Bradley said second-year offensive lineman Luke Bowanko will not play tackle against the Lions.
Bowanko competed with five-year veteran Stefen Wisniewski at center throughout training camp, with Wisniewski named the starter on Monday. Bowanko took repetitions at tackle during practice this week, but Bradley said he won't play there in the game Friday.
Bradley said Bowanko could play center and guard Friday.
Bradley on Wednesday also was asked about comments made by New York Giants wide receivers Victory Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. that Jaguars defensive backs had "targeted" Beckham in the teams' preseason game at MetLife Stadium Saturday.
"I heard a little bit about that," Bradley said. "We've said we'll go anywhere, anytime to compete. It doesn't matter … preseason, regular season … we go out there with intent. I think the guys played hard. I don't know everything that went on or how the conversation went.
"I thought the coverage was pretty good. I thought it was tighter coverage."