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O-Zone: Sixth sense

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … 

Big on Blake from Philly 

Zone, I have to say the coaching really showed up Saturday. These guys looked prepared, poised and purposeful. No bonehead mistakes, always in the right place and able to use their physical tools to complement each other for a collective strong performance. I can't say I've ever experienced a Jags preseason game like this from the defense. One fer Head Coach Pederson, defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and the Jaguars' defense. 

The Jaguars' 25-7 victory over the Detroit Lions in a Preseason Week 2 game at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., Saturday apparently played well in Philadelphia. And it indeed was a nice overall effort by the Jaguars, one that speaks well to their youth and their depth. The Jaguars and Lions both played mostly second-team players and reserves, with the starters from both teams having worked extensively against each other in joint practices at the Lions' facility in Allen Park, Mich., Wednesday and Thursday. The Jaguars' defense was impressive throughout, and the second-team offense took advantage of a Lions turnover late in the first half with quarterback C.J. Beathard's 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Parker Washington 25 seconds before halftime giving the Jaguars a 12-0 halftime lead. Veteran running back D'Ernest Johnson scored on touchdown runs of one and 15 yards in the second half of a performance that indeed was collectively strong. I can't in good conscience say I've never experienced a preseason game like this from the defense. I tend to block out preseasons soon after regular seasons begins. But except for injuries on the offensive line, Saturday was a good game for the Jaguars. Homeward bound. 

Al from Fruit Cove 

J.O. - Do you see any path for Nathan Rourke to be QB2? If so, does C.J. Beathard stay on as QB3, does he get picked up elsewhere, or does he find his way to our practice squad? 

I see no path for Rourke to be the Jaguars' backup quarterback. Pederson said so following Saturday's game and said it in such a way to leave no doubt. "C.J.'s our backup," he said. I realize this will not sit well with many Jaguars observers. Rourke has put up some nice statistics in two preseason games, and he also turned in a spectacular highlight touchdown pass in a Preseason Week 1 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. But the Jaguars like Beathard's experience, knowledge of the offense and ability to read defenses. Pederson said as much Saturday – again in such a way as to leave no doubt. This is now a non-story even though it is sure to continue to be a point of discussion, likely even emotional discussion. The question now will be if the Jaguars keep Rourke as a third quarterback. That will be difficult considering numbers at other positions. Stay tuned. 

Tom from Nocatee 

A quarterback should not be wearing #50. How about one fer getting the hell off my lawn. 

I laughed at this. I also laughed at Detroit Lions quarterback Teddy Bridgewater wearing No. 50 Saturday. It was silly. I laugh at silly things. 

Daniel from Genève, Suisse 

O-man, I saw a lot of positive things Saturday. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but our young talent is looking particularly good. What do you think was most impressive about Saturday. 

Running back Tank Bigsby, how the Jaguars run-blocked despite injuries along the offensive line and the continued solid performance of receivers deep on the depth chart. 

Zac from Austin, Tejas 

Much was revealed, ya? 


Bryan from Tampa, FL 

Rookie OL Cooper Hodges seems to be getting a lot of press lately. What are the chances he makes the 53? 

This question was sent before Saturday's preseason game. Jaguars rookie Cooper Hodges, a seventh-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft from Appalachian State who played at Baker County High School near Jacksonville, has played very well throughout most of 2023 Training Camp. He played well against Dallas in Preseason Week 1. The Jaguars like Hodges and see him as a likely future starter at guard. I would be stunned at this point if he doesn't make the 53-man roster. The caveat here is that Hodges sustained a patellar injury Saturday. He will undergo an MRI and X-Rays Sunday. Stay tuned. 

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville 

It appears the Lions left all their fight on the practice field. Great effort by the Jaguars in all phases of the game. 

One fer all phases. 

Richard from Orange Park, FL 

You know, the way Tank Bigsby runs reminds me a LOT of how MJD ran. 

I can see the comparison. Though it's perhaps unfair to expect Bigsby to be the same combination of power and speed as former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who at his peak was one of the NFL's most dynamic runners, Bigsby is showing signs of combining those two elements impressively. Saturday was a good day on this front. Bigsby, a third-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, rushed for 70 yards on 13 carries. He showed good burst on several runs and good physicality on others. He's starting to get interesting. 

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ 

Is it just me or does Cooks look more like a TE than a WR? And how are they going to find a spot on the roster for him? 

You're referencing Jaguars rookie wide receiver Elijah Cooks, who has looked impressive in 2023 Training Camp and who caught a 48-yard pass from Rourke Saturday. The game is morphing enough that there's often not a huge difference between tight ends and wide receivers in terms of size and role. But Cooks for now is a big wide receiver and not a tight end. I don't know that the Jaguars will be able to find a spot for Cooks. He's one of multiple players who may not make this roster who maybe – just maybe – could make other NFL rosters. 

David from Maplewood, NJ 

Zone, I don't see how Rourke and Parker Washington don't make this team. Do you honestly believe Beathard would give the team a better chance to win than Rourke? I can't imagine either on the practice squad for very long before some other team signs them. 

I expect rookie wide receiver Parker Washington to be on the team. I think Rourke is a much trickier question, but no … I don't believe Rourke over the long term gives the Jaguars a better chance to win than Beathard. 

Gabe from Washington, DC 

Seems like defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi and DaVon Hamilton are both dealing with injuries. I don't know how serious those are, but our team without those two in the middle looks a lot different than with them, and not in a good way. 

Fatukasi was ruled out of Saturday's game because of an injury as of last Thursday and Hamilton – who did not play Saturday – was on crutches following Saturday's game. The team has not announced the severity of either injury, and you're right: That duo is valuable to the interior of the defense. 

Hilarious from Funnytown 

Did the coach's kid do anything? 

Jaguars tight end Josh Pederson, son of Head Coach Doug Pederson, did not have a reception or a target Saturday. 


Rourke will not make it through waivers. If they are going to keep Beathard, we will be burning three of the 53 on quarterbacks this year. Also, whoever has been teaching our guys how to stiff arm the last couple of years is earning his money. Finally, we have to find a way to keep a hold of a couple of these bottom-of-the-roster receivers for when we could have some cap hits there next season. 


Brendan from Yulee, FL 

KOAF! What's the over/under on Greg Junior nabbing the starting nickel job? The kid has played well this offseason. 

I don't know what over/under means as it relates to a player's chances of earning a role. Junior, a second-year veteran from Ouchita Baptist, indeed has performed well this preseason and training camp and has a chance to be the Jaguars' nickel corner. 

Nick from Palm Coast, FL 

Since this league is all about cap savings how much would we save keeping Rourke over Beathard? Even you have to admit this kid might be a good backup. 

The Jaguars are not keeping Rourke over Beathard. 

Trevor B from Jacksonville 

Why did the owners decide to cap the number of practice squad players allowed? Let's say a coaching staff wants to keep 30 practice squad players and the owner is happy to pay. Is there some kind of competitive advantage to that? 

Owners cap the practice squad for the same reason they cap salaries and rosters: To protect them from themselves and to keep player costs at least somewhat manageable. 

Corey from Palatka, FL 

You deserve the KOAF crown. Nathan Rourke deserves the QB2 crown. End of story. 

My Spidey sense tells me this is not the end of the story.