By: James Johnson
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After starting the preseason off on a roll, the Jags went into M&T Bank stadium feeling confident. However, they received a nice reminder that there is still work to be done this preseason. The Ravens defeated them tonight with a stellar offensive effort dropping 48 points on the Jags. In the process they showed off a new no huddle attack that the Jags had no answer for. Joe Flacco connected Torrey Smith on multiple occasions accumulating 103 yards over the course of 3 quarters. Jaguars CB William Middleton had a long day in coverage against the speedster Smith. All-star RB Ray Rice didn’t hold back on the Jags defense, either. Though he only had two rushing attempts, he made the Jags pay severely with those limited touches, leaving the game with 30 yards total of those 2 attempts. Rice also came away with a 13 yard pass. The Jags were also victims of missed tackles, which defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will definitely address in the teams next film session. One top of that, several Jaguar players had to be carted of the field. DE Aaron Morgan, whose had a great preseason, left with what appeared to be a leg injury along with fellow lineman George Selvie, who was the victim of a knee injury. TE’s Zach Miller and Matt Veldman were carted off the field as well. Veldman appeared to have a knee injury like Selvie’s and Miller appeared to have a leg injury like Morgan’s. Hopefully the injuries aren’t as severe as some of them looked and each of them will be able to return for the regular season.
Though it appeared that the Jags had a horrible game, it is important to remember that it is preseason, and there were some positives to take from this game. Blaine Gabbert didn’t exactly have the best night in Baltimore, however one thing is apparent. He is a far better QB than he was last year. Once again, Gabbert stood tall in the pocket and took some shots. He also had a lot of success linking up with rookie WR Justin Blackmon. Gabbert and Blackmon seem to have a nice connection considering the numbers they’ve put up in their first 2 preseason games playing together. It’s evident that both players are vital to this franchise’s future and they are off to a good start as a duo. Another positive to take from his is that, though there were a lot of pending injuries, there are a lot of formerly injured players who will return this week or before the regular season. The Jags’ defense was minus two starters in Daryl Smith and Derek Cox. I would think that if Cox played, Torrey Smith wouldn’t have had as good of a day, even as one of the best players in the league at his position. Austen Lane should also return in the coming week or so and will be gladly welcomed back. On offense, starting LG Will Rackley should return soon and, according to Mike Mularkey, is ahead of schedule. Eugene Monroe has missed the last two preseason games due to a head injury he sustained in a practice prior to the Saints game, but will likely be back soon. Once Rackley and Monroe are back and inserted into their starting positions, the offensive line will be back to its original state and healthy for the most part. Eben Britton can then return to his RT position where he’s desperately needed, seeing as Whimper hasn’t looked good there. Britton’s return to RT will specifically help Rashad Jennings and the run game (which has looked great) even more . Gabbert would then have better protection on his blind side, where Cameron Bradfield replaced Monroe temporarily. Though Bradfield has showed promise, he’s still a young player with much to learn.
The Jags play the Atlanta Falcons for their last preseason game. I’d expect Mularkey to let the starters play for a limited amount of time then sit them for the regular season. The Jags will likely use this time to evaluate the backups and players on the bubble.
Update:8/24/12 1:00 P.M. – According to AP’s, Mark Long, Will Rackley, Eugene Monroe, and Daryl Smith all returned to the practice field today. This is great news since they are all starters. Aaron Morgan, who was carted off the field Thursday, also returned today. His depth will be needed because the Jags are currently thin at DE.