The Jaguars lost to the Bucs 23-24 in their second game of the preseason. The game was a vast improvement over the debacle that was the Miami game, especially offensively. However, the picture wasn't all rosy. The special teams unit continues to struggle, the team was an anemic 2/14 on third down (hence the signing of Wilford), and our receivers dropped multiple passes.
David Garrard - David looked sharp, completing 10/16 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. His play was far superior to the first preseason game, and provides hope that the passing attack may actually materialize. Garrard is looking good at the weight he's at, and his crisp passes seldom missed their mark. He obviously loves Torry Holt, and I hope he has enough of an opportunity to develop rapport with the crafty veteran.
Troy Williamson - Troy locked up a roster spot with his performance against the Bucs. He gained 174 yards on 3 catches and has propelled an awful offense into mediocrity. You're looking at the team's clear number two receiver, and he's evolved into what everyone thought Mike Walker would be this year. Throw his pink slip in the garbage, this guy is impressing even me, and his roster spot is all but guaranteed.
Chauncey Washington - The USC product led the team in rushing with 32 yards on 8 attempts. He continues to make his push for a spot in a crowded backfield. The injury to fellow 7th round pick Rashad Jennings has helped Washington get more carries, and he's taking advantage of it. This is a battle to keep an eye on, and no matter who earns the spot, the Jaguars win.
Russell Allen - The UDFA out of San Diego State continued to impress against the Buccaneers, leading the team in tackles while playing MLB. He's vocal on the field and I noticed him calling out to other defenders prior to the snap on many occasions. Heady play and leadership skills like that are great intangibles for a rookie to possess.
Adam Podlesh - The 4th round pick, who is in a battle with Steve Weatherford, handily won the second round of their four-round battle. He averaged 48.3 yards on 3 punts, 12 yards more than Weatherford averaged over 4 punts. Podlesh actually showed why he was drafted so high (for a punter), and went a long way towards securing a position on the squad.
Todd Bouman - The seasoned veteran looked downright awful. He had a ridiculous and unacceptable amount of passes batted at the line of scrimmage, resulting in the second team offense's struggles. Todd inspired no confidence in the team's ability to win in the absence of Garrard, and we're already hearing rumblings of another QB being brought in to the team.
Mike Sims-Walker - The one player on the team who could play the entire season, and still have missed more games due to injury than he's appeared in during his career... is injured again. This is a make-or-break preseason for Mike, and if he doesn't show at least something that Gene can hold onto during the last two games, it would be hard to see the Jags keeping Walker yet again. Forget "Fragile Freddy", how about "Weakling Walker"?
Mike Thomas - Thomas has missed his second preseason game, and in a crowded WR corp, that could spell trouble for the young wide-out. His fourth round status may save his roster spot this season, or the team may put him on IR for the year, as the Jaguars have been known to do in the past. Hopefully we'll get a glimpse of Mike at least once this preseason. If we don't, I expect the young man to be placed on IR for the season.
Brian Williams - B Dub continues to struggle in the preseason, looking very poor in a pedestrian secondary. Brian needs to show why the team signed him; his nose for the ball, and his physicality on the field. The injury to Derek Cox may be the luckiest break Brian got this year, as it is hard to believe he'll be shown the door without Derek showing what he is capable of. Brian has struggled mightily against the run and the pass. He's missing tackles and has been out of position far too often. Brian needs a big game against the Eagles, and the Jaguars need him to have one.
Gerald Alexander - The former Lion looked like, well, a Lion. He missed tackles and wasn't sharp at all. He clearly doesn't appear to be even close to challenging Reggie Nelson for the starting FS spot, although ultimately, his roster spot is safe as a back-up. It would be nice to see Gerald really show something tonight against Philly. He's got to make up for that missed tackle on special teams, as I'm sure he's seen it 100 times by now.
On The Fence:
Tiquan Underwood - The 7th round pick looked like a rookie on a number of plays, and looked explosive on others. He had a big kickoff return brought back due to penalty, and had a big catch late. However, he also dropped 2 passes that hit him in the hands. Consistency is what Tiquan needs to show us.
Pete Ittersagen - The young Division-III superstar didn't look spectacular on defense, however, he helped himself with a few good punt returns. Special teams is where most of the UDFA's will have to make their name, and the fact that Pete shows promise in the return game could help propel him onto the final 53.
Eugene Monroe - The number eight overall selection had his hands full with Gaines Adams when he played with the first team. Although Tra was still starting, it is encouraging to see Eugene is performing well enough in practice to push Tra Thomas for the starting spot. Facing competition the likes of Gaines Adams is the type of trial by fire that Eugene needs to prepare for players like Mario Williams and Dwight Freeney.
Vince Manuwai - The savvy and powerful Manuwai was a bit shaky and inconsistent against the Buccaneers defensive front. He gave up a sack and seemed a little gun-shy at times. We know Vince is capable of better, so this most likely has to do with getting used to having his knee tested again.
Josh Vaughn - The former Buc continued to impress with his strong running style and blocking ability. Josh has a steep hill to climb, but it appears that Del Rio and Gene are willing to give him an opportunity to make the squad. The performance of Washington and Jennings will play a large role in whether or not Josh even has a shot at a roster spot.