Jacksonville Jaguars safety and former first round pick Reggie Nelson is going to get the start on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
You know what that means.
Judgement Day for Reggie Nelson.
Reggie Nelson came into the NFL highly touted with Ed Reed-like skills. His first season with the Jaguars, he didn't do much to dispel that nothing, recording 5 interceptions his rookie year and looking like the ball-hawking safety the Jaguars were looking for.
Then 2008 and 2009 happened. Reggie Nelson played abysmal the years following his rookie season and netted only two interceptions in both seasons combined. While interceptions are not the measure of how good or bad a safety is, I bring it up because that was a big selling point of Reggie Nelson, he was a ball hawk.
What it really turned out to be, was Reggie Nelson was a player with all of the physical tools you want in a safety that could be easily taken out of the play with a simple play-action fake. Nelson was picked on repeatedly in the following two seasons which led to his benching after the incident known as "paddy cake" against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night last season.
In the two previous pre-season games Reggie Nelson hasn't come onto the field until late in the game, and last week against Miami didn't come in until after the half and played out the football game. Generally, if a player is poised to make the football team as anything more than a special teamer/3rd string player, you're not playing them deep in the fourth quarter of the second pre-season game. Nelson played the entire second half and his only real play of note was assisting on not allowing a kick to be returned for a touchdown.
With Reggie Nelson getting the start this weekend against the Buccaneers, it's a "Prove it!" game for Nelson. The coaching staff wants him to prove he's tough enough, as some in the building question his toughness. The coaching staff wants him to prove his hours of watching film are going to pay off. Gerald Alexander, who was previously thought to be slated as the starter at free safety has a poor outing against the Dolphins and blew some coverages. Nelson needs to stand out, in a good way, if he not only wants his starting job back, but if he wants to make this roster.
If Reggie Nelson can't show anything on Saturday, I feel he's not going to be on the Jaguars final 53. As I mentioned before, sure he's cheap, but is he worth keeping on the team? He's been a starter for three seasons and has been woefully disappointing for the last two, ending the season benched. This is a team in the rebuilding process on the defense and it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Nelson jettisoned in favor of a combo player such as Tyron Brackenridge.
Eben Britton is expected to return to the line up Saturday. The Jacksonville Jaguars will be with their "starting five" on the offensive line for the first time this pre-season.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Daryl Smith, John Estes, Kynan Forney, and Kirk Morrison are not expected to play on Saturday.