Football is back! There are less than two days until the first preseason game of the 2022 NFL season begins. The Jaguars face off against the Raiders in the annual Hall Of Fame Game at Canton, Ohio. And on Tuesday, we learned from Head Coach Doug Pederson that a couple of offensive starters will take no part:
#Jaguars coach Doug Pederson announced that QB Trevor Lawrence and RB Travis Etienne won't play in the Hall of Fame game on Thursday. Expect the #Raiders to be on the same page with several starters watching from the sidelines.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 2, 2022
This news isn’t particularly surprising. Coaches are loath to throw their star players into a meaningless contest. Furthermore, with Etienne looking sharp in his recovery from Lisfranc surgery, being cautious is a smart move. As a result, the former Clemson running back will look to get a few carries under his belt in the games closer to week 1. For Lawrence, it’s a slightly different story; often coaches put their QB1 in for one series, just to get the feel for competitive action again. With Jacksonville having the extra preseason game to work with, perhaps Pederson feels there’s plenty of opportunities for T-Law to get his feet wet.
Lawrence has notably been building chemistry with his new supporting cast in training camp. And whilst a rebuilt front seven has been giving this offense a few issues, strides are definitely being made. On Monday Christian Kirk hauled in an impressive touchdown pass from his quarterback. Lawrence significantly displayed perfect accuracy, dropping the ball elegantly behind Tre Herndon and into Kirk’s clutches at the back of the endzone. Pederson and his staff will be hoping to see more of the same as camp continues.
An Opportunity To Shine
With James Robinson recovering from injury and Etienne sitting this one out, rookie running back Snoop Connor will have the chance to cement a roster spot on Thursday night. The former Ole Miss Rebel has looked good in camp so far, demonstrating an all-round game. Monday saw his best day yet, showing off his pass protection skills and catching ability. The fifth round pick’s all-round game stands him in good stead competing with Ryquell Armstead for the RB3 role. Offensive coordinator Press Taylor has been impressed with how the position group has taken the opportunity that injury has offered:
“Yeah, those guys have done a great job. Obviously, it’s not a good thing that James isn’t out here doing it. But it gives those guys another chance to get more live reps essentially, without being live.”
Quarterback Jake Luton will start on Thursday, with Lawrence being rested and an injury to CJ Beathard. Back with the team after a year on Seattle and Miami’s practice squad, Luton is looking to fight off Kyle Sloter for the QB3 role. The 2020 6th round pick out of Oregon State has built a rapport with impressive UDFA receiver Lujuan Winningham, and will hope to take advantage of it against The Raiders.
One final name set to make his mark is Walker Little. The offensive lineman has been battling Jawaan Taylor for the starting right tackle job. With Taylor nursing a hamstring issue, Little has been getting a lot of starting reps. After some early troubles, he had a great practice Monday, shutting down messrs Chaisson, Walker and Allen:
#Jaguars OLB Travon Walker vs. tackle Walker Little pic.twitter.com/1pWj6sCBaY
— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) August 1, 2022
Not many starters are expected to see gametime on Thursday night. But Little might be one of the few with a big workload as he tries to win the confidence of the coaching staff.
Jaguars Defense Ready To Rumble
A lot has been said of the new-look Jaguars defense this offseason. A lot of resources has been put into the front seven, with new additions Walker, Lloyd, Oluokun and Fatukasi set for big roles. Not many of these will feature in the Hall of Fame Game, but one member of this unit has plenty to prove…
2022 is a key season for K’Lavon Chaisson. Drafted 20th overall two years ago, the speedy edge rusher is yet to kickstart his NFL career. In 31 games for Jacksonville, Chaisson has accumulated just two sacks. Considering his prowess at LSU, a lot more was expected from him. But with a change in coaching staff, the hope is high that Chaisson can be a major part of the pass rush rotation this season. On Thursday, he has the opportunity to get some snaps and show what he can do. With a breakout season, the Houston native can eradicate any murmurings of him being a dreaded ‘draft bust’.
The ascendency of Andre Cisco and Tyson Campbell has given the Jaguars secondary a boost. Having said that, many Jacksonville fans still harbor doubts as to the depth at cornerback and safety. They will therefore be buoyed by the camp performances of Montaric Brown, a seventh round rookie out of Arkansas. ‘Buster’ has made some big plays this week following a strong showing through OTA’s earlier in the year. On Sunday, Brown was moved up to the #2’s as the Jags got their pads on for the first time. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell will be intrigued to see how he performs in live action – expect Brown to be given a healthy dose of reps on Thursday.
Scouting The Opposition
Much like The Jaguars, we can expect The Raiders to sit most of their starters for this 2022 preseason opener. This matchup offers an intriguing battle between two new head coaches who hold a lot of respect in the game. Moreover, Josh McDaniels has a point to prove after his last stint as a HC didn’t quite go to plan. While we might not learn a lot about personnel, understanding the way the creative McDaniels wants his offense to play will be interesting…
Considering the volume of ball carriers on the Raiders roster, we can expect a New England-esque approach to the backfield. Two rookies in Zamir White and Brittain Brown will be given a significant workload, competing with Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah for a roster spot. Conversely, The Jags’ front seven should be ready for a healthy dose of smashmouth football.
Derek Carr is unlikely to start so we might see a backup battle between Jarrett Stidham, Nick Mullens and Chase Garbers. Garbers has elicited some kind words from McDaniels this preseason, but a roster spot might be tough to come by. Beating out the experienced Mullens or a guy familiar with the playbook in Stidham will be hard. Expect Garbers to get plenty of snaps to see what he can do – a perfect opportunity for Jacksonville’s secondary to shine.
Walker Little is likely to be tested by a former first round pick looking to finally make his mark. Clelin Ferrell is considered to have been wildly overdrafted by former Raiders GM Mike Mayock. He’s been reduced to a backup role behind Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. Much like Chaisson, Ferrell has plenty to prove, and the battle with Little could be quite telling.
Preseason game or not, football is back. Let’s do this Jaguars Nation! #DUUVAL!
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