Friday, August 17, 2012
Three things: Jaguars at Saints
By Paul Kuharsky
Three things to pay attention to tonight as the Jaguars take on the Saints in New Orleans:
Blaine Gabbert under fire: Poor pass protection has been blamed for a good degree of Gabbert’s problems. Although Eugene Monroe reportedly made the trip, the left tackle may not play after getting hit in the head in practice this week. It’s an injury-weakened line with him, and a super-weak line without him. Maybe the group will do better than we’d expect. If it doesn’t, then instead of seeing how Gabbert works with better protection, we’ll see if he’s gotten better playing with poor protection. It’s a less-than ideal scenario.
Justin Blackmon: The rookie receiver is a strong and physical player. Will he show that off in his preseason debut? An offseason DUI arrest and a lengthy contract dispute meant negative storylines for Blackmon this offseason. Against the Saints, he'll get the chance to change things. A solid showing can energize the offense, the team and the fan base. It would be awfully helpful. An average night would be fine and is what we should probably expect. A dud would obviously hurt.
The pass rush: The Jaguars dragged down Giants quarterbacks five times last week. It was an encouraging sign for a defense that can be really good if the pass pressure is consistent. But four of those sacks came after halftime. When the Saints have front-line players in the game tonight, can the Jaguars' top rushers be disruptive and get their hands on Drew Brees? Ideally, tackles Tyson Alualu, C.J. Mosley and Terrance Knighton get some push up the middle and move Brees off his spot, aiding ends Jeremy Mincey and rookie Andre Branch as they pursue.