It's Week 3 of the preseason -- the dress rehearsal where the starters play at least a half of football -- and the Jacksonville Jaguars are hosting the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football. (Yes, it's a kick in the teeth we didn't get any home primetime games this year, but a Sunday night game during the most watched preseason game is something, right?)
Last year, Blake Bortles and the first-team offense played one drive into the third quarter during Week 3 against the Detroit Lions and I'd expect more of the same this year.
As our attention turns towards the top half of the roster, which Jaguars players will we be watching on Sunday?
This is a no-brainer. The free agent left tackle has missed the first two games due to injury. Luke Joeckel has filled in adequately at left tackle, but the coaching staff envisions him as a left guard and he hasn't taken a single snap at guard this preseason. Gus Bradley said he sees "15 to 25 snaps" for Beachum on Sunday with Joeckel likely getting some time at guard, so it'll be fun to see how the actual starting five plays together for the first time all year.
Last year's left tackle has been moved to guard but because of Beachum's injury, this game will be the first where we see him play along the interior. Watch him and Beachum very closely because the left side of the line is the most important question to be answered on the offensive side of the ball going into the regular season.
In my opinion, Bernadeau is in danger of not even making the 53-man roster. If Chris Reed continues to play well enough to keep on as a backup, Beachum looks good at left tackle, and Joeckel transitions well inside... why should the team keep Bernadeau?
He's been completely rust-free through the first two weeks of the preseason. Can he go an entire half and do as well throwing more than the seven and 11 passes he threw against the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively?
In my opinion, Yannick Ngakoue has looked slightly better at the starting LEO spot than Dante Fowler. Yannick has engaged at the point of attack better, he's playing with more speed and aggressiveness, and he's registered more than Dante's zero tackles. This will be a game where Dante will have more snaps than ever before to establish a rhythm and be given more time to figure out the opposing tackles. If he's still stonewalled again, well, I doubt he has much opportunity in the final preseason game to show much of anything.
Gus Bradley said earlier this week that Myles Jack would be given some snaps at middle linebacker with the first-team offense. Good God almighty... I. cannot. wait.
Jalen Ramsey had about as good of a preseason debut as you could hope for, registering a tackle for a loss on the opening drive and then contributing two more tackles in just 17 snaps. He covered receivers well out of the slot cornerback position and all around looked very much worth the top-five pick the Jaguars used on him. I'm excited to see how he does against the best receivers the Jaguars will face this preseason.