JACKSONVILLE – The focus figures to remain on the quarterback.
That's how it has been for the Jaguars throughout 2021 Training Camp and preseason, and that's how it likely will stay for quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew II Monday.
Head Coach Urban Meyer opted not to announce a starter for Monday's Preseason Week 2 game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome, so yeah … the issue of who will start will be something to watch as the 8 p.m. nationally televised kickoff approaches.
Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, started the preseason-opening loss to the Cleveland Browns last Saturday and played two series. Minshew played the final three series of the first half.
The two have split repetitions throughout Jaguars 2021 Training Camp.
Whoever starts at quarterback – and however repetitions are split – there are multiple storylines as the Jaguars prepare for the second of their three '21 preseason games.
Here's a look at 10 of the biggest:
1. Who will start at quarterback. Meyer opted for a second consecutive week to not name a starting quarterback in the days before the game. He also has opted to not yet name a starter for the regular season, saying Lawrence has yet to win the job. He said late in the week he would like the issue to not extend through the end of the preseason. Stay tuned.
2. Get the tempo up, up, up. If Meyer had a major theme following the preseason opener, it was that he wanted more tempo and pace offensively. Meyer specifically said he didn't want a "wallowing" offense. The Jaguars may or may not push deeper into the offensive and defensive playbook in New Orleans, but they almost certainly will try to show more urgency offensively.
3. Is the run defense for real? The Jaguars' run defense, a liability last season, showed early signs of being a strength against Cleveland by allowing 41 yards on 26 carries. Second-year defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton is showing signs of being a very good nose tackle, and this area looked stouter last Saturday than it had in a long time. The Jaguars would like those early signs to become a trend.
4. Can Henderson continue to look ready? After missing the early part of training camp with COVID-19, second-year cornerback CJ Henderson against Cleveland looked like the player the Jaguars selected No. 9 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft with two passes defensed in the first half. The Jaguars need that to become a trend, too. Henderson remains critical to this defense.
5. Sorting out safety. The Jaguars feel good about veteran safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and who has shown up in '21 camp. The next step is figuring the safety position next to Jenkins. Rookie Andre Cisco flashed against Cleveland and needs to continue to do so to separate from multiple solid players there.
6. Get a "victory" – just because. Meyer and Lawrence both talked after the Browns loss of wanting to win, preseason or not. A team that now has lost 16 consecutive games – including 15 to end the 2020 regular season – could benefit from winning. Preseason or not.
7. Shaking out the quarterback depth. Third-team quarterback CJ Beathard performed well enough against Cleveland to draw praise from Meyer days later as playing great. Can he play well enough the rest of the regular season to perhaps be the backup quarterback? Stay tuned.
8. Uncrowding the wide receiver depth. The decisions in the coming weeks figure to be as difficult at receiver as at any position on the Jaguars' roster. DJ Chark Jr., Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. figure to be the top three receivers, and Jamal Agnew will have a roster spot as a returner/receiver, but a slew of veterans have shown up in camp including former first-round selections Phillip Dorsett II, Laquon Treadwell and Tavon Austin. Second-year veteran Collin Johnson has flashed, as have veteran Pharoh Cooper and rookie Jalen Camp. This figures to be a battle until the final cutdown day.
9. Consistency at kicker. Kicker Josh Lambo missed from 47 yards against Cleveland. "Lambo has to stick them through the uprights," Meyer said later. Lambo has been remarkably consistent in three-plus seasons with the Jaguars. The Jaguars need him to remain that way.
10. Keep staying healthy. Meyer has talked multiple times about listening to assistants with NFL experience regarding the length of the NFL season – and the corresponding importance on being fresh and healthy. Reducing preseason playing time and reps toward that end isn't something Meyer seems to love. Credit to him for realizing health is paramount in an NFL preseason.