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Jaguars – three things to watch tonight against the Falcons

Roy Cummings

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Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone wouldn’t mind seeing a few of his projected starters, including quarterback Blake Bortles, play a few snaps in tonight’s preseason finale against the Falcons.

For the most part, though, he’ll avoid that temptation.

As much as Bortles, running back Leonard Fournette and cornerback Jalen Ramsey could use the work, Marrone will allow this game to be the scrum of scrubs that it usually is.

Marrone, though, still has at least one starting position battle to decide so at least one projected starter will get some snaps in this game and he may actually get a lot of them.

With that in mind, here’s a look at three specific areas of play or players who will bear watching tonight as the Jags get ready to pare their roster to the 53-man limit on Saturday.

 

Left guard

 This is the one position battle that remains undecided and if someone doesn’t decide it tonight it could have implications all across the line. The Jaguars are hoping that either incumbent starter Patrick Omameh or challenger Luke Bowanko will prove tonight that he is far and away the better option here. If that doesn’t happen the Jaguars may have to consider moving Brandon Linder back to left guard and putting Bowanko at center. That may seem like a worst-case scenario given that Bowanko has played so little football the last two years, but the Jaguars need to be strong in the middle of the line if they’re going to make their power running game work so this is a critical decision they have to make.

 

The wide receivers

 Rookie Keelan Cole and young journeyman Shane Wynn are in a battle for what may be the last spot on the depth chart here. Though Cole has dropped a couple of passes the last two games, both have played well enough to earn a spot, with Cole catching five passes for 132 yards and a touchdown and returning a punt 31 yards while Wynn has caught six passes for 60 yards and returned a kick for 48 yards. The Jaguars are pretty deep at the receiver position but there’s talk they may want to trade Allen Hurns. The play of Cole and Wynn is one reason why those rumors may be accurate and another good game from both tonight could greatly impact the way the Jaguars fill out this position at the start of the season.

 

The cornerbacks

 The Jaguars have the makings of one of the best corner contingents in the game thanks to the presence of cornerbacks Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin. There is still a fourth corner spot that has to be filled, though, and given the fact none of the aforementioned regulars has been allowed to play regularly while rehabbing from injuries this preseason it’s an important one. Tyler Patmon and Brian Dixon have received the bulk of the playing time here so far in exhibition games and that will probably be the case again tonight. There may only be room for one of these two to make the team, though, so that last roster spot could come down to who picks off a pass or simply does the best job in coverage.

 

 

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.

Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:

This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.

Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″

It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:

However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially,  put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?

Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.

If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus

Florida Football Insiders

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.

Caldwell was a specifically asked about Dareus’ status and gave a quick answer is part of his Q&A session:

Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.

Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.

Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.

However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.

Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.

However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.

Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.

As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?

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