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Big Cat Country Q&A: Will rookies suffer from canceled preseason games?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

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Let’s answer some Jacksonville Jaguars questions as we head into TRAINING CAMP, folks!

Today we’re talking the importance (or lack thereof) of preseason play, Gardner Minshew, and empty crowds.

Brandon from Wilkes-Barre, PA

Q: Given how young our roster is, how much will they suffer from not playing in preseason games?

A: Not as much as people think. I believe teams are good enough now at preparing young players in practices and at their facilities. Playing against future insurance salesmen or playing against a cobbled together group of starters and special teams players isn’t going to show what a guy can or can’t do. Look at how Gardner Minshew performed last preseason. We were afraid he’d be cut... and he might have been had he not performed well in Weeks 2 and 3 after a disastrous opener against the Baltimore Ravens. I like the idea of zero preseason games in favor of scrimmages between teams. The regular season opener is always an adjustment no matter if you’ve played your starters a lot or a little in the preseason.

Xavier from Jacksonville, FL

Q: What do you think the ceiling is for guys like C.J. Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson?

A: I think we’re a few years away from even being able to guess this correctly, but here’s what I think for their rookie seasons and beyond...

With the way the Jaguars have beefed up their defensive line this offseason, Henderson is in a good position to thrive. He was drafted to be CB1 and the rest of the group is average at best, so he’ll have plenty of opportunities. His big knock is that he’s not a strong tackler, so that’ll hurt his ceiling. But he’s excellent at man coverage. If he can be put into the right opportunities, he’ll be a fringe Pro Bowl candidate like Josh Allen was last year.

And for the purposes of these projections, I’m assuming Yannick Ngakoue is either gone or a holdout. That leaves Chaisson with a big chance to be the team’s most impactful rookie. Josh Allen was only in on 60 percent of defensive snaps while filling in those gaps with nearly 100 snaps on special teams. Look for Chaisson to get a similar workload, but with a little less production than what Allen got last year. I think we won’t have any idea how good he can be until 2021. Sorry.

Pat from Albany, GA

Q: Who are our best backups on offense and defense?

A: Offense? Ryquell Armstead. Defense? Dawuane Smoot.

Brian from Worchester, England

Q: With stadiums at little to no capacity for the 2020 season, do you think it changes the win-loss expectancy for the Jaguars?

A: Hmmm... I hadn’t thought of that. I would imagine it puts a ceiling on guys we would consider “gamers” who don’t practice well but just get amped up to play games and raises the play of guys who might crack when there’s 60,000 people yelling at them. I’m gonna stick with my original prediction of 6-10 unless something drastic changes.