The Jacksonville Jaguars are getting ready to play their third preseason game on Friday evening against the Detroit Lions on national television. It's going to be a big game for a lot of players on the roster, as the third preseason game is the closest thing to a real NFL game in the preseason and is a chance for some players to show what they can do when the lights are on.
And there are a number of players on the Jaguars roster, who in my opinion, should be firmly on the roster bubble.
While quite a few NFL teams can probably cut their roster down to about 55-60 players by the end of OTA practices, those final players are where the real hard cuts are and the preseason can play a big role in that, given the fact you have things like live special teams and situations.
Here are the players that I feel could/should be on the roster bubble for the Jaguars final roster.
With Arrelious Benn hitting injured reserve after breaking his clavicle, Tandon Doss was given a better chance at making the roster, but he's still firmly on the bubble for me. He was hyped up in the spring but once training camp and everything rolled around, that disappeared. I can't remember anything of merit Doss has done in the first two preseason games, and frankly it appears he's behind rookie Rashad Greene as far as being a punt returner, so if he's not doing that what does he really offer?
I feel like I say this every year, and I'm going to say it again because nothing has changed, but Andre Branch has got to show an ability to effect the passer and he's yet to do so through two preseason games. We heard once again how he had a good training camp and looked good, but once it was live action and he was going against other players he didn't see daily and not at full speed, he disappeared.
I think Jeff Lageman said it best on Jaguars Today on 1010XL Tuesday, in that Andre Branch looks like everything you want in a weakside pass rusher, but he's just not a "creator". He's an effort rusher who needs someone/thing else to create for him so he can finish it. The problem is, in the Jaguars defensive scheme, the LEO end needs to be one of the creators. I think it was very telling when the Jaguars put in their pass rushing unit against the New York Giants and Branch was the guy who dropped into coverage.
I'm not really sure there's anything Storm Johnson can do to keep himself on the 53-man roster at this point. He's looked plodding to the line and wholly ineffective as a runner for the Jaguars. With T.J. Yeldon coming back, and Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart firmly on this team, it's not likely Johnson would see the field on game day. Not only that, but Bernard Pierce has looked solid in his limited time in the preseason and making the most of his opportunities. Then you have to factor in that Johnson doesn't really offer a ton on special teams, while someone like Corey Grant has shown flashes of being an explosive returner.
Tyler Shatley/Austin Pasztor
I honestly think both of these players make the roster, but in reality to all comes down to if the Jaguars decide to keep nineor 10 offensive lineman. If they keep 10, both make it. But if they keep nine, I think one of them has to go. Though, the injury to Josh Wells could force the team's hand into keeping 10 guys.
Shatley has shown the ability to play across the interior of the offensive line, while Pasztor can play both guard spots and at least the right tackle position. Shatley is someone the team has forced on the roster before and he was one of the first guys out when an interior lineman got dinged in the preseason.
Jeremy Harris/Nick Marshall
Like the offensive line battle above, I think this battle comes down to a numbers game. Harris has been "developing" for two seasons and to be quite honest hasn't really shown much to merit sticking on the roster. He is still practice squad eligible I believe, but how much longer does the project go on before you move on to the new project who already seems more promising in Nick Marshall.
Marshall has flashed so far in the preseason, and while he still has a ways to go, appears he can make that transition back to corner from quarterback. I also wonder if long term the team might have an eye for him at the free safety position.