Jack Del Rio made it sound as though the Jaguars' front-line players are going to get a little more playing time in this preseason than they would normally expect, beginning with Saturday night's preseason-opener against the visiting Atlanta Falcons.
"I plan on playing our guys a good bit … a good bit more than we have in the past," Del Rio told reporters following practice on Friday.
Del Rio wouldn't speak specifically of how much time for specific players, such as starting quarterback
David Garrard, nor would Del Rio provide a reason for increasing play time, but it might be a reaction to the Jaguars' performance in the season-opener against Tennessee last year, when the Jaguars seemed to struggle with conditioning.
"I really think our football team is ready to hit somebody else," Del Rio said.
Several players will be under an intense microscope against the Falcons. Those players include wide receivers Matt Jones and Mike Walker, offensive tackle Khalif Barnes, linebackers Justin Durant and Clint Ingram, and backup quarterback Cleo Lemon.
"I think he's been solid," Del Rio said of Jones, the fourth-year receiver. "He's had a really good start. We look forward to getting him into games. We want to see him sustain the effort."
Walker, last year's third-round draft pick, is making a comeback from knee surgery and has had to fight through an ankle sprain in training camp.
"Mike has put himself into position to shine. We'll get a shot to evaluate him real good tomorrow night," Del Rio said.
Barnes began camp behind Richard Collier at left tackle, but Barnes quickly moved Collier out and would seem to be on the verge of locking up the job.
"Unless something dramatic occurs, Khalif is going to be our starter," Del Rio said.
Ingram and Durant are battling for the third linebacking position.
"As far as Clint and Justin, we're not ready to name a starter, yet," Del Rio said.
All three quarterbacks – Garrard, Lemon and Todd Bouman – will play against the Falcons. Lemon is likely to get the bulk of the playing time and the Jaguars would like for Lemon to justify his acquisition in free agency with a strong preseason performance.