BALTIMORE, Md. – The starters mostly sat, and the backups mostly started.
The Jaguars’ 2019 preseason opener had a decidedly “reserved” feel Thursday night, with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew among a slew of backups starting in a 29-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
“Obviously, I’ve had a change of philosophy in how I approach preseason,” Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said of playing just five projected “starters” in the preseason opener,” but one thing I want to make sure you understand is we go out there to win games with the players we have on the field.
“That’s obviously important to us.”
Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft and the projected backup to newly-signed starting quarterback Nick Foles, played seven series – the entire first half – and completed seven of 14 passes for 46 with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
He played with just four projected offensive starters starting the game.
“We had a hard time getting things going,” Minshew said. “Our thing all camp has been we’re going to take this film, take those mistakes and hopefully make new mistakes tomorrow. Just keep getting better.”
The Ravens led 10-0 after the first quarter and 16-0 at halftime, with the lone touchdown of the first half coming when Baltimore starting quarterback Lamar Jackson passed 10 yards to starting wide receiver Willie Snead with 1:17 remaining in the first quarter.
Jackson completed four of six passes for 59 yards and a touchdown while playing through the end of the first quarter.
The Ravens quickly extended the lead after halftime, taking a 26-0 lead when cornerback Cyrus Jones returned an interception off Jaguars third-team quarterback Tanner Lee 19 yards for a touchdown with 8:20 remaining in the third quarter.
Lee, a sixth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, was sacked on his first two plays – the Jaguars’ first two plays of the half – then threw the interception on the third play.
Speaking at halftime, Marrone lauded a few Jaguars players – safety C.J. Reavis, rookie edge defender Josh Allen and veteran running back Alfred Blue. He emphasized that evaluation was the focus Thursday.
“We’re really looking to see how these guys are going to play,” Marrone said. “I think that these young guys have an opportunity tonight, and they have to take advantage of it.”
Thirty Jaguars players did not play, including Foles, starting running back Leonard Fournette, starting defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue and starting cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The only starters on the Jaguars’ unofficial depth chart to play were tight ends James O’Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim, left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and guard A.J. Cann.
Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., who has been running with the first three receivers in practice, also played – as did the Jaguars’ last two first-round draft selections: rookie edge rusher Josh Allen and second-year defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
The Jaguars and Ravens held joint practices Monday and Tuesday at the Ravens’ UnderArmour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md.
“The practices were good,” Marrone said. “The guys played well. But like I told the team afterward: ‘It’s a performance-based business.’ When you get out there when it counts – for us, it’s on Thursday nights [during the season] – and that’s when you have to play.”
Step by step:
*The Ravens took a 3-0 lead on their first possession with a 52-yard field goal by Justin Tucker with 10:18 remaining; Baltimore forced the Jaguars into a three-and-out series on the game’s first possession. Keelan Cole returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown, but rookie free-agent safety Andrew Wingard was penalized for holding to negate the touchdown. Jackson’s touchdown pass capped the Ravens’ best drive of the first quarter – a 57-yard series that consumed 2:47. With the Jaguars’ reserves playing against a team of mostly Ravens starters, Jacksonville had 27 first-quarter yards and two first downs to 73 and four for the Ravens.
*The Ravens continued to control the game in the second quarter, taking a 13-0 lead when kicker Kaare Vedv ik converted a 55-yard field goal with 7:10 remaining in the half. Vedvik’s 45-yard field goal with :01 remaining in the half made it 16-0, Ravens.
*The Ravens’ trend of finishing drives with field goals continued early in the third quarter, with Vedvik converting from 26 yards for a 19-0 Baltimore lead with 9:55 remaining in the third quarter. Jones’ return of the interception off Lee came on the ensuing series.
*Vedvik’s 29-yard field goal with 6:20 remaining in the fourth quarter made it 29-0, Ravens.
Injury report: Jaguars linebacker D.J. Alexander sustained a stinger in the third quarter … Running back Ryquell Armstead was evaluated for a concussion in the third quarter.
Notable: Jaguars players ruled out before Thursday’s game: Foles; wide receivers Terrelle Pryor Sr., Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, Marcus Simms and Chris Conley; running backs Fournette, Roc Thomas, Thomas Rawls and Benny Cunningham; center Brandon Linder; guard Andrew Norwell; right tackle Jawaan Taylor; left tackle Cam Robinson; and tight end Josh Oliver; cornerbacks Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and D.J. Hayden; safeties Jarrod Wilson, Ronnie Harrison and Cody Davis; linebackers Myles Jack, Quincy Williams, James Onwualu and Jake Ryan; tackles Abry Jones and Marcell Dareus; and ends Ngakoue, Lerentee McCray and Campbell. Pryor, Lee, Bouye, Davis, Cunningham, Rawls, Thomas, Ryan, Williams, Onwualu, Robinson, Taylor, Simms and Oliver were held out for injury reasons.
What’s next: The Jaguars will play host to the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Jaguars opened the 2019 preseason by visiting the Baltimore Ravens.