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Play time increases for starters


The starters will play deeper into the first half of Saturday's preseason game against visiting Miami, which should give David Garrard and company plenty of time to sustain drives and calm criticism for last week's performance in the preseason opener.

"We haven't finalized that," coach Jack Del Rio said of playing time amounts. "I think we've talked a little bit as a staff about wanting to extend our ones a little more. We're going to go through and see how the week finishes up and where we are health-wise and how much we can play guys. I think the second game you increase your time a little bit with your first group."

Garrard and the first-team offense gained only one first down in just a quarter of action in the loss in Philadelphia last Friday. The defense struggled, too, and the Eagles' starters outgained the Jaguars 165 yards to 10 in the first quarter.

Backup quarterback Luke McCown and the Jaguars' second-team offense came on to light up the skies for 244 yards and three touchdowns and, of course, that lit a fire under disgruntled fans.

While the fans' attention will be focused on the quarterbacks, Del Rio will be watching closely what happens up front. He wants to use this game as a barometer for the play of his offensive and defensive lines.

"They've built a physical team," Del Rio said of the Dolphins. "They've invested heavily in their offensive and defensive lines, so you know it's going to be physical. We were once known as that; we'll be back in that conversation shortly."

These would seem to be this week's issues:

  • Garrard—Will he move the ball, score some points and create an element of calm heading into the third preseason game, which is usually the last significant action of the preseason for the starters?
  • McCown—Was his performance against the Eagles a sign that his career is turning a corner, or was it just a one-night fling?
  • The pass-rush—Can the Jaguars find one? Defensive end Aaron Kampman and rookie defensive tackle Tyson Alualu each practiced on Thursday, giving rise to the possibility they might play in Saturday night's game. Getting those two on the field together might be the best news of the summer for the Jaguars.
  • Guard—There's a battle between Kynan Forney, Justin Smiley and Vince Manuwai for the starting left guard spot. Will one of those three take the lead on Saturday?
  • Safety—Gerald Alexander and Anthony Smith are the leaders for the two safety jobs, but improved play overall is the goal. The safety play against the Eagles was spotty.
  • Return game—Is it really as good as it looked against the Eagles? Rookies Deji Karim and Scotty McGee will get another chance to impress.
  • Defense—Del Rio was displeased by its performance against the Eagles and he no doubt is challenging his defense to play better this week. Any hope the Jaguars have of being a playoff contender in 2010 rests with improvement on this side of the ball.

"When you only get a small taste and it wasn't the way you wanted, you're dying to get right back out there and feel good about going forward," Garrard said. "It usually is up to the halftime in the second game and in the third game it's usually a few drives into the third quarter. That's what I'm expecting," he added of his play time.

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