LANDOVER, Md. – This was a night for roster evaluation, plain and simple.
That was pretty much known much of the week, and it became flat-out apparent in the moments leading to the Jaguars' 17-16 victory over the Washington Redskins in the 2015 preseason finale at FedEx Field Thursday evening.
Jason Myers, who became the Jaguars' kicker this week, kicked a 47-yard field goal with 3:32 remaining for the winning points.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley had said during the week leading to the game starters and front-line guys would play sparingly, if at all. And indeed nearly all front-line Jaguars players did not play.
Quarterback Blake Bortles was among 33 players ruled out for the Jaguars before the game, a total that included 17 offensive players and 16 defensive players.
Defensive end Chris Smith, who is projected to start at the team's Leo defensive end position in first- and second-down situations, was the only Jaguars' "starter" to play against Washington. Backup quarterback Chad Henne was not ruled out, but did not play.
Third-team quarterback Stephen Morris played the entire game for the Jaguars, completing 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards and a five-yard touchdown to wide receiver Bryan Walters that gave the Jaguars a four-point lead late in the third quarter.
The Redskins played limited front-line players as well and took an early 7-0 lead when reserve quarterback Colt McCoy passed 19 yards to reserve receiver Rashad Ross with 4:39 remaining in the first quarter.
The Jaguars tied it early in the second quarter with a 46-second touchdown drive that covered 80 yards. Morris passed 40 yards to wide receiver Tony Washington on the drive's first play, with rookie running back Corey Grant running 40 yards for a touchdown on the next play.
Kai Forbath's 25-yard field goal with 7:13 remaining in the second quarter put the Redskins ahead, 10-7.
The Jaguars then took the lead with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter with Morris' touchdown pass to Walters. Grant keyed that drive with runs of 33 and 20 yards. The Jaguars led 14-10 at that point.
Redskins running back Mack Brown's 3-yard run with 8:38 remaining made it 16-14, Redskins, before Myers' game-winning field goal.
Player of the game
Corey Grant. With few front-line players playing – and with each offense struggling much of the game – there weren't too many candidates here. For the Jaguars, go with Grant, a rookie running back from Auburn University who appears likely to have earned a roster spot. Grant, one of the fastest players on the Jaguars, has played well as a kickoff returner much of camp. On Thursday, he took a second-quarter handoff from Morris and turned it into a 40-yard touchdown that tied the game 7-7 with 13:57 remaining in the first half. He finished with 74 yards on five carries.
Here are some photos from the first half of the Jaguars vs. Redskins matchup.
Both teams struggled much of the game offensively, which isn't unusual with reserves playing throughout the preseason finale. The Jaguars finished with 273 yards total offense and 12 first downs.
The Jaguars' defense had a few standout plays – notable early were a pass deflection by tackle Michael Bennett and a sack by Leo Chris Smith. Overall, the second-team line – playing extensively with the starters out Thursday – generated good pressure and limited the Redskins early. The defense finished without a preseason interception, finishing Thursday allowing 114 yards rushing, 184 yards passing and 21 first downs.
Many eyes were on Jason Myers Thursday, three days after he became the Jaguars kicker with the team's trade of longtime kicker Josh Scobee. Myers on Thursday missed his first field-goal attempt of the game – a 56-yarder in the first quarter – and all four of his kickoffs were touchbacks.
*The Jaguars sustained two significant injuries in the first quarter, with safety Craig Loston leaving and being taken to the locker room quickly for evaluation. Defensive tackle Ziggy Hood later in the first quarter. Neither returned.
*The sixteen (17 with Henne) Jaguars offensive players who did not play were: quarterback(s) Blake Bortles, (Henne); running backs Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart (abdomen) and T.J. Yeldon; wide receivers Marqise Lee (hamstring), Rashad Greene, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns (hip); center Stefen Wisniewski; right guard Brandon Linder (toe); left guard Zane Beadles; left tackle Luke Joeckel; right tackle Jermey Parnell; and tight ends Julius Thomas (hand), Clay Harbor and Marcedes Lewis.
*The seventeen Jaguars defensive players who did not play were: defensive ends Jared Odrick, Ryan Davis, Andre Branch (knee), Chris Clemons and Tyson Alualu; defensive tackles Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks (knee); linebackers Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, LaRoy Reynolds and Dan Skuta; cornerbacks Peyton Thompson, Dwayne Gratz, Davon House and Aaron Colvin and safeties Johnathan Cyprien (finger) and Sergio Brown.
*Standing out *
*Rookie wide receiver Neal Sterling caught three passes for 38 yards in his first action of the preseason. The seventh-round selection missed the first three preseason games with a hamstring injury.
*Running back Bernard Pierce had an early run for 41 yards and didn't play into the second half.
*Jaguars defensive end Cap Capi registered a second-half sack, his third of the preseason.
*Washington finished with two receptions for 45 yards.