Jaguars giving LB Hayes Pullard III a long look against Falcons

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With the majority of the Jacksonville Jaguars' starters sitting in Thursday's preseason finale against Atlanta, there are plenty of opportunities for bubble players to make a last push for a spot on the final roster.

Linebacker Hayes Pullard III is one of the names atop the list.

Since backup middle linebacker Myles Jack is going to start at weakside linebacker, Pullard is likely going to start in place of Paul Posluszny. The former USC standout is fighting for a roster spot behind Posluszny, Telvin Smith, Jack, and Dan Skuta, so the extra playing time will certainly help.

Pullard made several big plays in last week’s victory over Cincinnati, though only one counted. He lined up at fullback and caught a touchdown pass but the play was nullified because he failed to report in as an eligible receiver.

Pullard made up for that in the fourth quarter, though, when he returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown to put the Jaguars ahead for good.

"I just went to my landmark," Pullard said. "My landmark was 1 yard outside the hash. You continue to read the quarterback's eyes like the coach was talking about ... and the ball was just right there. I just had to catch it and run."

Pullard was originally drafted by Cleveland in the seventh round in 2015 and ended up on the Browns' practice squad before the Jaguars signed him to their active roster in October. He played mainly special teams until the final two games of the season when he started at weakside linebacker for Smith, who was out with a shoulder injury.

Pullard started 51 games in four seasons at USC and finished with 377 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions. He doesn't stand out because of his size (6-foot, 236 pounds) or speed, but the Jaguars like him because he was very productive when he got on the field (17 tackles in the two games at the end of the 2015 season).

His versatility is a plus, too, because he can play weakside and middle linebacker. The Jaguars are giving him a chance to prove he should be the fifth linebacker over Thurston Armbrister, Jordan Tripp, Ryan Davis and Sean Porter.

He might have already made the team, though. The fact that the Jaguars used him at fullback is a good sign because it's unlikely they would have done that with a player that wasn't going to make the roster.

"I'm here for my teammates," Pullard said. "Whatever is good for the team, that's what I'm willing to do."