Reggie Williams and Daryl Smith will move into the starting lineup for Friday night's preseason game against the visiting Green Bay Packers. If their auditions are successful, their promotions could be permanent.
"We're going to start Daryl and Reggie. We're not going to hand anything to these guys," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters today, following a brief practice this morning.
Williams and Smith are the Jaguars' top picks in this year's draft class. Smith, a linebacker from Georgia Tech who was chosen by the Jaguars in the second round, has performed impressively from the moment he joined the team in spring drills. Williams, a wide receiver from Washington who was the ninth pick of this year's draft, missed most of spring drills and got off to a slow start in training camp, but closed ground in the final week of camp.
"We have some good battles at spots and we want to see them against (the Packers') good people," Del Rio said, referring to his plan to play key backup personnel while the Packers' starters are still on the field. The Jaguars' starters will play through the first half, at the least.
"Teams are doing more and more of taking care of their starters. We're going to do some of that," Del Rio said.
Williams and Smith, however, will no doubt receive plenty of opportunity to prove they're worthy of starting jobs. Williams will move ahead of Troy Edwards and into the number two wide receiver position. Smith will join Akin Ayodele as an outside linebacker in a trio of starting linebackers that will also include middle linebacker Mike Peterson. Del Rio would not say which outside positions Smith and Ayodele will play, strong or weak.
Del Rio has emphasized a competition theme from the start of training camp, and in what is generally regarded as the most intense game of the preseason, the competition for a few starting jobs and several roster spots will reach a peak.