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Notes and observations: A game that matters


JACKSONVILLE – This preseason game has meaning.

Circumstances have made that so – enough so that Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis was clear this week that a preseason game against Carolina Thursday carries real significance.

"It's super important," Lewis said following the Jaguars' practice on the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field. "This is the game where the starters play the most, and coming out of last game … we've got some stuff to prove."

The Jaguars, after a 31-24 victory in the preseason opener at New England, struggled in the first half of a 12-8 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field last Thursday. The first-team run offense struggled, as did the entire first-team offense, and the defense allowed three consecutive long first-half drives.

"It's definitely important to go out and have a better showing than last week," defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. "It just wasn't up to par for our standards last week, so to have an opportunity against a good team – a good, physical veteran team coming in here – should be a great way to see how we've progressed and be that team we know how to be."

Head Coach Doug Marrone after the loss to Tampa Bay declared the quarterback position "up for grabs," and players this week emphasized a need for an overall better feeling exiting this week compared to last.

"We have to go out, have sustained drives, finish with points and get off the field," Lewis said. "We've had three really, really hard and good days of practice. We'll be prepared come Thursday night."

Note and observations from Thursday around the Jaguars:

*Marrone, too, said there was importance to Thursday. "I'm not going to lie: obviously it's important," Marrone said. "Some people say it's not that important. It gets blown up either way: if you go out there and do well, then it wasn't against this team or that team or this best team. I think it's important to go out there and do well.  Every time you take the field, it's an opportunity for you, especially at this time of year. It's an opportunity to show what you have, an opportunity to earn a starting positon, an opportunity to earn a right on the team. ''…

*Marrone on Tuesday said he expects cornerback Jalen Ramsey to make his first 2017 preseason appearance Thursday. Although the player expected to start opposite Ramsey – A.J. Bouye – is expected to be out for the third time in three preseason games, Marrone said Tuesday he's far from panicked over that situation. "We had the New England work that really helped," Marrone said, referring to Bouye participating in two of the team's dual practices against the Patriots early this month. "I think he's had enough snaps playing. I would I have liked to see him more, absolutely. …. Knowing what type of player he is and what he's been able to do, he's done it here where I've actually watched it, it makes it better ... but it doesn't make it the ideal situation." …

*Marrone on Tuesday also discussed the importance of leg strength when it comes to kicker Jason Myers. The third-year veteran has struggled on field goals in the 2017 preseason, missing from 53, 50 and 40 yards. Myers in two seasons with the Jaguars typically has performed well on kickoffs, with 60 of his 76 kickoffs last season resulting in touchbacks. "You're going to have to do both and do both well to be able to play for us," Marrone said. …

*Lewis has played with a slew of Jaguars left tackles, including Khalif Barnes, Eugene Monroe, Luke Joeckel and Kelvin Beachum. The 12th-year veteran said he likes what he sees from rookie Cam Robinson, the second-round selection who appears likely to start at the regular-season opener. "He's doing good," Lewis said. "He asks a lot of questions, which is good. He wants to be a good player. He's one of the most athletic big guys I've seen at that position. He has the want to and that's where it starts.'' …

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