Thursday, August 29, 2013
Three things from Jaguars-Falcons
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars wrap up the preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons tonight (7:30 p.m. ET). Here are three things to watch:
The quarterbacks: With starter Blaine Gabbert out with a hairline fracture of his right thumb, Chad Henne gets the start. But he and the rest of the team’s starters will play only 10-15 snaps. That leaves Mike Kafka and Matt Scott to play the majority of the game.
The two are battling for the No. 3 quarterback spot. Neither has been particularly impressive in the preseason. Kafka has completed 7 of 14 passes for 27 yards and one interception while Scott has completed 12 of 28 passes for 103 yards. They’ve played in every game.
The team claimed former Kansas City QB Ricky Stanzi off waivers on Tuesday, but that move appears to be more about picking his brain about the Chiefs (whom the Jaguars play in the regular-season opener) than anything else.
So it’s Scott versus Kafka for the third quarterback spot. It’s a critical competition, at least for the early part of the season. There’s some doubt that Gabbert will be ready to go in Week 1, in which case Henne would start and the Kafka/Scott winner would be the No. 2.
Jonathan Cyprien: Coach Gus Bradley has said several times this week that he wants Cyprien to get more reps against the Falcons. The second-round draft pick missed the first two weeks of training camp because of a hamstring injury.
The 6-foot, 217-pound safety is a better option in the secondary than Chris Prosinski, who was picked on by Miami in the preseason opener, including a play in which he got turned around on a touchdown pass. Cyprien seemed to be unsure of himself at times in last Saturday’s game against the Eagles and the extra playing time will certainly help.
Cyprien will be one of two rookie starters in the secondary (cornerback Dwayne Gratz is the other). They’re going to make mistakes but the best way to limit those is to get as much time on the field as possible.
The battle at WR: Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders and Mike Brown are set, which leaves five players competing for two spots. The top two candidates are Jordan Shipley and Tobais Palmer, with Jeremy Ebert, Toney Clemons and Charly Martin likely on the outside.
The 5-11, 178-pound Palmer is intriguing because of his speed, but he has fumbled two punts in the preseason and that may be something he can’t overcome. Shipley leads the bubble group of receivers with four catches for 48 yards. He also has value on special teams as a punt and kickoff returner, which may be enough to win him one of the final two spots.