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Dante Fowler expected to play against Buccaneers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars final preseason game is on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and it’s expected the team is going to rest a lot of their top end players. One player who is expected to play and will probably play quite a bit however, is defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.

“He’s going to play. That’s my plan,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said on Tuesday when asked about the plan for Fowler headed into Thursday’s finale with the Bucs.

Fowler has only had about eight total practices this offseason and is suspended for Week 1 of the regular season, so clearly the Jaguars feel it’s important for him to get plenty of reps on Thursday so he can be ready to go for Week 2 against the New England Patriots.

“No, not really. Not right now. Maybe the night beforehand,” Marrone said when asked about if he knows how many snaps Fowler is expected to play. “I know he is going to play. I think that’s important. Just so you guys know, my philosophy has been – you can look back at what I have done before, but if someone is playing, I never really tell them how much they’re playing. What happens is they get that pitch count in their mind. All of a sudden it’s like, ‘Whew, I have two more plays left.’ Then all of a sudden, they take it a little bit easy and maybe they stand up a little bit and someone rolls into them. I try to keep their mindset – you’re getting ready to play, play a whole game, until we tell you that you’re not. This way the player doesn’t know and he is prepared for everything. That’s how I feel. I don’t know if it’s real or what people feel or not. I just know my experience as a player when people have gotten a pitch count, then those guys will be counting the plays.”

Fowler saw his first real action on Saturday evening against the Atlanta Falcons, but didn’t register at all on the stat sheet. Fowler had an early pressure on Matt Schaub, but after that seemed to struggle getting off his blocks and was moved around in the run. That’s not necessarily unexpected for Fowler though, considering the offseason he’s had and how much time he’s missed. He still needs to get back into playing shape and it looks like the plan is for him to actually play himself into it.