Three things I’ll be looking for as the Jaguars open their preseason Friday night at EverBank Field against the Miami Dolphins.
The pass rush: Dolphins left tackle Jonathan Martin was abused by the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game, including George Selvie, the former Jaguars defensive end. If Jason Babin, Andre Branch and whoever else rushes against Martin and/or his backup can’t break through, it will do little to settle any concerns about the Jaguars rush, which was beyond anemic last year. Branch has had a quiet camp from most accounts and from what I saw last week. It’s time for last year’s second-rounder to make some sort of sound.
The quarterback: If Blaine Gabbert can play well, he can grab hold of the lead for the starting job. Chad Henne also will get work behind the top line, but he didn’t get a guarantee of starting the second game from Gus Bradley. Of course, the Jaguars are going to continue to talk about competition at that marquee spot, because it has a trickle down bearing on competition throughout the roster. But there might not be much competition at this spot if Gabbert is able to get off to a good start. He has shown that can be a monstrous if.
The playmakers: The team isn’t expecting big impact from Denard Robinson, their running back/offensive weapon, but he should have some chances Friday night considering that Maurice Jones-Drew, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon and Justin Forsett will not play. That means rookie receiver Ace Sanders, who has looked very comfortable in all the receiver spots, should have a good deal of chances along with college quarterback-turned-receiver Mike Brown. Beyond Robinson, Sanders and Brown, with all those skills guys out, who will make some plays?