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Jaguars rookie rundown: Week 12 review

Jaguars rookies deliver mixed performances in pivotal Week 12 victory over the Houston Texans

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, the sweet taste of victory.

Last Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars pulled out an important 23-20 win over the Houston Texans in a “gritty not pretty” redemption game, placing the Jags firmly in the driving seat of the AFC South. The Jags offense was clicking on all cylinders, and the defense managed to shut down rookie phenom QB C.J. Stroud when it mattered most, forcing the Texans to attempt a 58-yard field goal in order to tie the game, which they proceeded to miss.

For the first time in a long time, no rookies stuck out for being an impediment to the team. While most of the rookie class was hard-pressed to find much playing time on Sunday, the ones who saw the field performed pretty well. Let’s see where those kudos are due.

Notable Performers:

Anton Harrison: This was perhaps the most exciting offensive game this year, and though Trevor Lawrence certainly deserves acclaim for what is perhaps the best 2-game stretch of his career, the offensive line deserves a lot of credit for their protection this past Sunday, of which Anton Harrison was a big part. Though the Texans defensive front doesn’t feature any elite players at the position (not yet, at least), rookie DE Will Anderson Jr. is playing quite well and is surely a budding star in the league. Harrison was tasked with guarding Anderson on 19 snaps, and he managed to shut Anderson down entirely. In fact, Harrison logged zero pressures allowed on the day. If anything negative could be said about Harrison’s performance, it would be that he, along with the entire offensive line, struggled to open up many running lanes for Travis Etienne, however, the pass protection more than made up for it, as the box score suggests. It’s encouraging to see Harrison rebound after a couple of poor performances. Let’s see if he can keep it up against another difficult matchup next week with Bengals pro-bowl DE Trey Hendrickson set to play.

Grade: B+

Brenton Strange: In what might have been Luke Farrell’s best game this year, Strange continued filling the role of TE3 who is used almost exclusively in the blocking game. He took 24 snaps on Sunday - 5 running routes, 6 in pass blocking, and 13 in run blocking. He finished the day with 0 receptions and the lowest PFF score (42.0) of any Jaguars offensive player, but he did have a couple of notable blocks on Farrell’s 42-yard reception not reflected in his score. At this point, he may not be playing the role fans had initially hoped, but he seems to be playing the role fans have grown to expect - a block here, a block there, and otherwise very little.

Grade: C-

Tank Bigsby: You know the Jags have gotta be on a hot streak when we’ve gone two consecutive weeks without a Tank Bigsby-induced turnover. Sure, Bigsby only received two snaps on Sunday due to D’Ernest Johnson now filling the role of RB2 (and filling it beautifully, I might add), but he managed to turn one of those two snaps into a 6-yard run. Don’t show this one to your statistics professor, but that sure looks to me like 6 yards per attempt. Let’s call that progress.

Grade: insufficient data

Parker Washington: Amidst a season that has been noticeably void of special teams splash plays, Parker Washington made an impressive 22-yard punt return halfway through the first quarter. His playing time was otherwise limited, but it was nice to see a bit of the playmaking ability that made fans excited after he was drafted by the Jags in the 6th round of the 2023 NFL draft. Hopefully, he can continue to make contributions as the year progresses.

Grade: insufficient data

The Rest:

Antonio Johnson took 0 snaps on defense but appeared solid on special teams. Tyler Lacy failed to log a tackle or pressure on only 5 snaps. Elijah Cooks and Yasir Abdullah were healthy scratches. Christian Braswell remained out with an injury.

Summary:

Considering that Anton Harrison constitutes the majority of total rookie snaps, one could say it was a fairly strong outing for the Jaguars rookies. Add in Parker Washington’s nice punt return and the lack of a Tank Bigsby turnover, and it was one of the top 3 games for Jags rookies this year.

But the bar is low. Though most of the Jaguars’ rookies have shown flashes at some point this season, none have been able to perform at a high level consistently, and the majority have struggled to make much of an impact at all. Considering that starters consistently being healthy has made it difficult to give rookies playing time in their stead, there is limited room for complaint. Still, with players like Washington coming back from injury and Strange in a pass-catching dry spell, the Jags may start to incorporate more variety in the offensive lineup. it will be interesting to see whether any rookie earns themselves increased playing time as the season shakes out.

Jags fans, any additional thoughts on our rookie class?