JACKSONVILLE – Consider it a philosophical thing.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone didn't go into detail about who will play or for how long in Preseason Week 3, but starters apparently will play – and perhaps extensively.
"I think you have to play," Marrone said Thursday morning on Day 20 of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. "That's more and more been my philosophy.
"I like to gradually build it up and I like those guys to play, just mentally. Play together, communication … I think there's a lot more that goes into it."
The Jaguars (1-1 in the preseason) will play host to the Atlanta Falcons (0-2) at TIAA Bank Field Saturday at 7 p.m. in the third preseason game for both teams. Teams often use the third week of the preseason as a "dress-rehearsal" game before resting many starters in the following week's preseason finale.
"I've always believed you get better by playing than you do by practicing, so I tend to like to play our starters in the third preseason game," Marrone said.
The Jaguars are scheduled to visit the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium Sunday, September 9, in the 2018 regular-season opener. They are scheduled to play at Tampa Bay next Thursday in the preseason finale.
Saturday's Preseason Week 3 game is expected to be the 2018 preseason debut for several Jaguars starters, and Marrone said he expects rookie defensive tackle Taven Bryan – the team's first-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft – to play after missing the first two preseason games with an abdominal injury.
"That's important for me, to see him in game experience – because he hasn't been out there yet," Marrone said of Bryan. "He's ready to go, so we'll see how he does in the game."
Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. has practiced this week after missing the first preseason game (home against New Orleans) with a shoulder injury and the second (at Minnesota) while serving a suspension. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey also has practiced this week after missing the second preseason game under suspension.
Starting tight end Austin-Seferian Jenkins, starting free safety Tashaun Gipson, safety Cody Davis and starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus returned to practice this week after missing the second preseason game.
Saturday also could be important for the Jaguars' offensive line, with Marrone saying Thursday he expects starting left guard Andrew Norwell and starting right tackle Jermey Parnell to play.
Parnell missed the first two preseason games with a knee issue and Norwell – who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Carolina Panthers in the offseason – missed both preseason games with a calf issue. Starting center Brandon Linder left the Jaguars' preseason victory over Minnesota Saturday with a knee issue, and Marrone said he has not been ruled out for Atlanta.
"If it's close, then obviously I won't play him," Marrone said.
Marrone said no injured players have been ruled out for Saturday. He said coaches will meet to discuss who will play and for how long on Friday afternoon.
"We want everyone preparing like they're going to play," Marrone said.
Marrone also on Thursday discussed nose tackle Eli Ankou (knee) and defensive end Dawuane Smoot (ankle), a pair of players who were on last season's roster but who have yet to play in the preseason because of injuries.
"It affects a lot – at least for me," Marrone said. "Now, I don't control the 53. I don't have that. But it's a whole lot easier to know who should be on the team and who shouldn't be on the team if you're out there playing. When you're not playing, you have to sometimes make some tough decisions – and it's no one's fault.
"If a player can't be out there and he can't participate, that's not his fault. Injuries happen. At the same time, we've got to make decisions on what's best for the team. Those are tough deals."