JACKSONVILLE – Now, on to Preseason Week 2.
The Jaguars play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field Thursday in the second game of the 2017 preseason.
It's a notable game for the Jaguars – and not just because its presence on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" makes it their lone prime-time, nationally-televised game of the '17 preseason.
Perhaps most importantly, it's another look – and perhaps an extended one – at quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles played just two series in Preseason Week 1 at New England last week; history tells us starters – quarterbacks included – typically get a longer look in Preseason Week 2.
It also could be the Jaguars' first look at two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Arizona in the offseason. Campbell missed the preseason opener against New England last week, but practiced much of the past week.
Beyond that are some typical preseason storylines:
Can the offense build on positive moments from the opener?
Can a defense that impressed at times in two dual practices this week against the Buccaneers continue to look like a strength?
Can the special teams turn in another encouraging performance?
Those are some general things to watch for the Jaguars against Tampa Bay. Here are 10 specific ones:
1)Bortles.He's the biggest story around the Jaguars; that won't soon change. Look for him to play more than he did against New England – and look for him to throw more than the five passes he threw in that game. The speculation, analysis and scrutiny around Bortles is intense. A clean game Thursday won't end that, but it might make it manageable – at least for a week.
2)Health.This is always a preseason issue, but it's one that grew around the Jaguars this week. After starting training camp in good health, that changed a bit this week. Running back Leonard Fournette (foot) won't play Thursday. Neither will wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle). Nor will cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey or Aaron Colvin. A lot of those aforementioned players will be ready for Week 1, but this team's depth makes good health in the coming weeks important.
Go inside Tuesday's practice as the Jaguars hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the second joint practice this week.
3)The run.The Jaguars showed promise here against the Patriots, largely because of Fournette. It's tough to be dominant on the ground in preseason even with your top back, so don't look for dominance against Tampa Bay. But the Jaguars would like to build on the Preseason Week 1 promise.
4)Pass rush.The Jaguars' defensive line flashed in pass-rush drills against the Bucs this week, and third-year end Dante Fowler Jr. showed good penetration several times. Showing that in practice is good progress for Fowler and the line. Showing it in a game would be better.
5.Chad Henne.Henne looked good in the preseason opener. He looked equally good taking first-team practice repetitions when Bortles had arm soreness three days later. A good game from Henne won't change the quarterback depth chart, but it's never bad to have your backup playing efficiently.
Images from the first day of joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
5a.Brandon Allen.Well, if you're going to watch the first two quarterbacks, you should watch the third, too.
6)The corners.This will be a night of opportunity – again – for a lot of young corners trying to make a roster. Ramsey and Colvin won't play, and with starter A.J. Bouye out of practice Tuesday – his action is likely to be limited. Reserve veteran corner Tyler Patmon has made a ton of plays in practice. Is he doing enough in games? He, Brian Dixon and Doran Grant have worked with the starters in camp, but performance in games and on special teams will be key for all three.
7)Jason Myers.The third-year kicker missed twice last Thursday from 50 yards and longer. Those aren't easy kicks, but they're far from impossible in the NFL. He also has missed more kicks in practice than is ideal. His leg strength makes him a significant asset on kickoffs, but reliability on placements must be paramount.
8)Ones versus ones.The Jaguars won the preseason opener – and the Jaguars' starters held their own early against the defending Super Bowl champions. But the Patriots held a slew of front-line players out of that game. Thursday versus the Buccaneers figures to be the Jaguars' first in-game work against a team's best personnel. The first quarter and a half will be well worth watching.
9)Allen Robinson.The starters were out of the game so fast in New England you saw little of Robinson. Too bad. He has stood out through camp, and has been the Jaguars' best offensive player so far.
10)Offensive line.The starting line seems close to settled, with left guard Patrick Omameh, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jermey Parnell getting first-team repetitions when healthy. Rookie Cam Robinson and veteran Josh Wells are both getting reps at left tackle, though Robinson seems likely to start the opener. How this group fares is critical to the season. The first group got some push in the run game against New England and looked good more often than not in the passing game. The Jaguars want this group to keep building through the preseason.