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Jaguars rookie rundown: Preseason Week 1

How did Jacksonville Jaguars rookies fare in their preseason week 1 game against the Dallas Cowboys?

NFL: Preseason-Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Rookie Rundown. Every week, I’ll be covering Jacksonville Jaguars rookie performances from the previous week’s game, including pertinent stats, weekly studs, and highlights/lowlights. This will be a column in flux, so feel free to comment below with any specific players or information you’d like to be included.

Preseason Week 1 was an exciting kickoff to the season. As Jacksonville took the field for the first time this season against the Dallas Cowboys, thousands tuned in to watch the revamped offense, 13 (!) drafted rookies, and UDFAs who have been turning heads at camp. As much as any offseason in recent memory, fans have been anticipating the return of Jaguars football, and the team did not disappoint. Last week’s game showcased what appears to be a strong class of rookies, as they put together a handful of solid showings and big plays. Let’s break it down player by player.

OT Anton Harrison: Overall a good debut for the Jaguars’ first-round pick. Harrison had 0 pressures allowed on 12 pass protection snaps and solid run-blocking on 8 of 9 running plays. His one major gaffe was a blown block on DE Dante Fowler which led to a tackle for loss on RB Travis Etienne. As expected, he played all snaps at RT despite playing LT during his career at Oklahoma.

TE Brenton Strange: Strange took 3 snaps with the starters, all of which had him positioned as a blocker. He got his receiving work with the second-string offense, logging 2 receptions for 8 yards. His biggest impact play was sealing the edge on this long run from Tank Bigsby.

Overall, Strange looked good and was able to make his mark (predominantly as a blocker), even in a crowded TE room.

RB Tank Bigsby: Bisgby took almost all of his snaps with the second-team offense, logging 9 carries for 51 yards (5.7 YPC). His biggest play of the day was an impressive 34-yard scamper (see above).

His runs up the middle were not quite as impressive, though he appeared to make the most of the lanes he was given. It will be interesting to see how they use him in the remaining weeks of the preseason.

LB Ventrell Miller: The former Gator finished the day with one tackle and one sack. Not too shabby, but important to contextualize – he played predominantly with the third and fourth-string defense.

DE Tyler Lacy: Lacy only logged one tackle for the day, though he did a fairly good job ensuring running lanes remained closed. He also logged a penalty. Overall, a relatively quiet first game.

OLB Yasir Abdullah: With three solo tackles, including one sack and one tackle for loss, as well as a QB hit that won’t appear on the stat sheet, Abdullah’s preseason debut was quite impressive. Among all the defensive rookies, he had arguably the most impressive performance, perhaps only matched by the next guy on this list.

S Antonio Johnson: Johnson was flying around the field last Saturday, leading the team with 8 tackles (5 solo) as he took snaps from both the safety and nickel positions. He wasn’t flawless in coverage, but it was a good first showing from the hard-hitting rookie.

WR Parker Washington: With Agnew held out from his normal kick/punt return duties, Washington took over as his backup, logging 4 returns for 44 yards. Even on his shorter returns, he was often fighting for some extra yards, demonstrating the YAC ability he displayed at Penn State. He also had a nice reception for 16 yards.

CB Christian Braswell: Braswell continued his training camp penchant for playmaking into Week 1, logging 3 tackles and a nice interception of Cowboys QB Will Grier. He should continue to get plenty of reps in the next couple of weeks.

DB Erick Hallett: It was a fairly quiet day for Hallett, as he logged 1 tackle in 26 defensive snaps. He had a few blown coverages as well.

OL Cooper Hodges: Hodges led all offensive players with 68 offensive snaps, and he certainly made the most of them, consistently creating running lanes and giving time for backup QBs CJ Beathard and Nathan Rourke to throw. He wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid showing.

The Rest:

WR Elijah Cooks: Cooks had 2 nice receptions for 42 yards. A sleeper for the competitive WR6/7 roster spot.

FB Derick Parish: 0 catches

DT Raymond Vohasek: 0 tackles

OLB DJ Coleman: 2 tackles, 1 QB hit

CB Kaleb Hayes: 3 tackles, 1 pass defended

WR Jaray Jenkins: 2 receptions for 32 yards

LB Dequan Jackson: 1 tackle

CB Divaad Wilson: 3 tackles


Considering both offseason reports and Week 1 performances, my money is on Harrison, Strange, Bigsby, Abdullah, Johnson, Washington, and Braswell to make the roster. Though their level of play alone would likely put them on the fringe, considering their draft investment, Miller and Lacy should also make the roster. Hodges and Cooks could surprise with a roster spot if they continue to show up in the preseason. The rest will likely be a casualty of impending roster cuts or find a home on the practice squad.

While it can be easy to write off the preseason as a scrimmage for the starters, most guys on the field are fighting for their jobs, so the stakes will be high. We should see even more of these guys in the coming weeks as they fight to secure a roster spot.