ATLANTA, Ga. – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Ashlyn Sullivan offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 28-12 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in a 2022 Preseason Week 3 game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday …
John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer
1. Mission (safely) accomplished. The Jaguars accomplished their No. 1 preseason goal – and they were pretty much assured of doing so before Saturday. That goal? To be healthy entering the September 11 regular-season opener against the Washington Commanders. That goal was why few front-line players played Saturday. While defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi missed this past week's joint practices against the Falcons with a calf injury, the rest of the Jaguars' starters and front-line players exit the four preseason games healthy – with two weeks remaining to feel fresh entering Washington. "I think we're in a pretty good spot," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson said Saturday. "We've got a couple of guys who are bouncing back. Foley, we've got to try to get him healthy and get him back out there. Other than that, I think we're pretty good coming out of camp and into the regular season." There were a bunch of good storylines for the Jaguars this preseason. A defense that appears improved. An offense that also appears improved. A quarterback in Trevor Lawrence that is learning the offense and developing on schedule. Those storylines matter in the long-term. But getting out of preseason safe and healthy matters very much in the short-term.
2. A few highlights. As is often the case in a preseason finale, overarching highlights and storylines were comparatively few Saturday. One thought from Saturday is it was good to see rookie inside linebacker Devin Lloyd play extensively in the first half, his first NFL game action after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury; the guess here is that the No. 27 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft will play Week 1. Another thought is rookie kicker James McCourt looked solid, making both of his field-goal attempts (54, 38 yards). Good enough to be the Week 1 kicker? We'll see, but Pederson didn't commit to that Saturday. A final thought is it will be difficult to keep wide receiver Tim Jones off the final roster. He led the team in receiving in each of the final three preseason games, leading the team in the preseason with 14 receptions for 219 yards. What does that mean for wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft who played extensively in the preseason finale? That could be a huge storyline in the coming days.
Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent…
1. There's not a lot to say about a preseason finale, but the Jaguars did manage to narrow their wide receiver's room Saturday. We know the big three – Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Marvin Jones. While it's up to your perspective, Jamal Agnew comes in at No. 4 on my chart. On Saturday afternoon Tim Jones, Laquon Treadwell and Laviska Shenault Jr. competed for the final two spots. By any objective measure, Jones and Treadwell came out on top. Jones gives the room something it doesn't necessarily have otherwise: a big guy who can run. Neither Jones nor Treadwell should get too comfortable; the waiver wire or a trade could change the dynamic. Jones, though, looks like a guy who could become more than a role player. Because he plays special teams, he's likely to be active on Sundays and that means opportunity.
2. Defensive lineman Jay Tufele came to play Saturday, and he's a guy Doug Pederson told me last week needed to step up. He's a big body with surprisingly quick feet and will backup DaVon Hamilton in the middle of the defense. He started slowly at the Hall of Fame Game but turned in three straight strong performances to solidify his role for defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. He was a fourth-round pick; you must hit on those guys to build a consistent winner. The Jaguars have plenty of guys outside. They needed more inside. For now, Tufele appears to have proven his worth.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars Team Reporter…
1. I thought roster cuts were pretty obvious before this game, but Tim Jones changed my mind. After making two big plays Saturday, Jones has made it very difficult for the Jaguars to cut him. If your goal is to put Jones on the practice squad, he must clear waivers. I don't see that happening after the good tape Jones has collected throughout the preseason. This is a tough call. It's Shenault, Treadwell and Tim Jones for these final receiver spots and you likely won't keep three on the 53-player roster; that would be seven receivers. Pederson said Tim Jones was impressive because he not only made big plays, he made them in crucial moments when the Jaguars needed some momentum. I am now very curious about who rounds out this receiver room.
2. Multiple players said on the Jaguars' radio broadcast it was almost eerie knowing the next time they put on their Jaguars jerseys it will be for real. We're all ready for this to be for real and the Jaguars have a week between the end of the preseason and the regular season to get ready. Pederson said they will treat this upcoming week like a bye week once roster cuts are finalized. They will work full days studying the Washington Commanders until Thursday midday, then give the staff and players the weekend off. It's officially on to the regular season. Now, we really find out what this football team is all about.
View real-time game photos of the Jacksonville Jaguars Preseason Week 3 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.