The final preseason game is generally regarded as the least important of the four, as starters take to the bench early, coaches are most determined to show nothing of any schematic importance, and everyone's mind is on the start of the regular season that is just a week away. Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, however, puts an interesting twist on this week.
"It's a full game-plan week. It's a full presentation to the players," Coughlin said of this week's preparation for Thursday night's game in Dallas.
Coughlin uses this week as a dry run for next week, when the Jaguars will prepare for their season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a week to get into the regular-season routine.
This will not be a totally unnecessary exercise this week for other reasons, too. The Jaguars, according to their performances against the Giants and the Chiefs, are not regular-season-ready. They need more work.
"I'd like to run the ball. I'd like to rush the passer and do a better job with our pass-coverage. I'd like to know we won't have any break-outs on kick coverage, and that we'll do a better job with the punt game. There are a certain number of individuals I want to see play," Coughlin said.
Yes, the final preseason game is mostly about the final roster cuts, but that's not the big issue with the Jaguars, who are trapped by the salary-cap amortization of their veteran players, and who aren't deep enough in talent to anguish over low-priority roster decisions.
This Thursday's game in Dallas is about getting this team ready to face the Steelers; to be ready to begin a September schedule so favorable that the Jaguars must start fast to have any chance of being a playoff contender.
"The closer you get to the regular season, the more specific we have to practice and play," Coughlin said.
That's where the Jaguars' medical report enters the picture, again. Tony Boselli (knee), Keenan McCardell (hernia surgery) and Fernando Bryant (separated shoulder) are attempting to recover in time for the opener, Now, add to that list tight end Kyle Brady, who has a troubling leg infection.
"That's one of those things, and that's the scary part," Coughlin said of Brady's injury, which hadn't been considered serious until today. Brady is believed to have acquired the infection as a result of an abrasion on his leg.
In other medical news, rookie linebacker Eric Westmoreland missed today's practice with a sprained knee.
Coughlin announced that rookie long-snapper Randy Chevrier will also play some defensive line Thursday against the Cowboys, and rookie punter David Leaverton will give kickoffs a try. Those two players are in hotly-contested roster battles and may need to increase their worth.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.