We already knew that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars were slated to be part of the NFL International series. Now, we’ve learned where, and against what opponents, they will be playing.
— NFL (@NFL) January 21, 2019
First, the Jaguars annual “home game” in London will be against the Houston Texans in an AFC South clash. This is the first time in four years that Jacksonville will play a division opponent, as they’ve played the defending Champion Eagles last season, and the AFC North Baltimore Ravens the year before in England. They played and defeated the Colts in 2016 in London.
For the Buccaneers, this will be the third time that they will host a regular season home game abroad. And, they will be playing a division rival also, the Carolina Panthers. The Bucs previous two games in the “International Series” were played in England in 2009 against the Patriots (above) and then, in 2011 against the Bears.
The Bucs will play Carolina with new coach Bruce Arians at the helm with a likely October date for the game.
It had been speculated that the NFL’s International game in Mexico would feature the Oakland Raiders this upcoming year, as they are currently embroiled in a controversy about where to play home games next season? The Raiders are being sued by the city of Oakland, and owner Mark Davis has made it clear they’re no longer going to play in the Oakland Coliseum in 2019 before moving to Las Vegas in the new stadium in 2020.
However, the league announced on Monday that the Chargers and Chiefs will play an AFC West showdown in Mexico, at a date still to be announced. Meanwhile, the Raiders will host the Bears and also the Rams, who qualified for Super Bowl 53 Sunday, will host the Cincinnati Bengals.
The NFL had scheduled a Rams home game with Kansas City for Mexico last November, but the field at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City was ruled unplayable/unsafe. So, their epic Monday night game was instead played the L.A. Coliseum.
Now, it is possible that the Rams could be hosting their London game, as the Superbowl champs.
The Jaguars had won three London games in a row, until defending champion Philadelphia beat them a year ago. That weekend was not without controversy, as numerous Jaguars were detained for hours by London police for trying to leave a prominent London Club without paying their tens of thousands of dollars in alcohol costs.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are o-2 in their two matchups in the UK.
The NFL will name dates for the different international games later in the offseason, and the full schedule release is due out in April before the upcoming NFL Draft at the end of that month.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.