All the preparation, all the practices in the hot Florida sun. All of it was with an eye toward tonight, when the Jaguars take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at EverBank Field in the preseason opener for the Jaguars. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Pittsburgh opened the preseason Sunday night in the Hall Of Fame game in Canton. The Steelers lost that game 14-3, against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Jaguars held a walkthrough Friday morning, ahead of the game and Head Coach Gus Bradley spoke to the media and was asked how he felt about his group, going into the first preseason game. “I’m excited to see not only how we go out there and play, but how we perform in a higher intensity environment,” he said. He was asked about playing time and said he really didn’t discuss it with the players, but did tell them to prepare for a game. “I didn’t talk to them about snap count; I don’t want them to think that,” he said. “Generally the ones (starters) go a quarter, a quarter-and-a-half, and then the twos go second quarter, third quarter, threes go the fourth quarter, something like that. I try to not get into it and tell them how many reps it’s going to be. It’s just kind of a feel.”
Jaguars starting quarterback Blake Bortles, who has had a quietly solid camp will be in the game tonight and Bradley touched on what he expected to see from him during the game. “We talked about his ownership of the offense, to lead this group,” Bradley said. “Granted it’s more of a rules game, we’re going with our offense, not so much a game plan. We have a ready list but it’s more of a training camp mentality to go in there and continue to execute.”
Execution will be key, especially with a new offense in place, implemented by new coordinator Greg Olson. “I think they’ve really picked it up faster than we anticipated,” said Bradley. So now it’s a matter of going out there and executing.” As expected, many players will not participate in tonight’s game. Running back T.J. Yeldon, who sprained his finger in Saturday’s scrimmage will be held out. “I think it wasn’t so much holding the ball, it’s more like protection, Bradley said when asked about Yeldon. “So you can’t put him out there at this point (less than) one hundred percent.”
Jaguars.com reporter J.P. Shadrick listed the other injured players. Chief among them, Marqise Lee, who is still dealing with a hamstring that he strained early in camp. Defensive end Jared Odrick and defensive tackle Roy Miller will both sit out with knee issues. Following the game tonight, the Jaguars will focus on next Saturday’s preseason road game against the N.Y. Giants.