The Jacksonville Jaguars will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Friday in the preseason opener for each team. While preseason game are normally quite mundane, this matchup features plenty of intrigue for both teams.
With it being the first preseason game, the starters are likely to exit the game after just a few series, which, for the Jaguars, likely means plenty of reps for rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. The first-round pick has been impressive in training camp, leading some to question whether he should actually sit on the bench this season as the Jaguars have planned. If his success in practice can translate to a live game, which there is no reason to believe it shouldn’t, the Jaguars may have to seriously reconsider their decision to sit him.
One problem for Bortles in this game could be a lack of weapons on offense. The Jaguars receiving corp has been decimated by injuries in camp, but he will likely have fellow rookie Marqise Lee out there with him. It could provide an early glimpse of the future in Jacksonville.
For the Buccaneers, they are looking to bounce back under new head coach Lovie Smith after a horrendous 2013 season. Friday night’s game should provide a glimpse, however brief, of the Buccaneers new-look offense.
The Buccaneers signed journeyman quarterback Josh McCown to lead their revamped offense. They also drafted wide receiver Mike Evans (6-foot-5) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-foot-5) in back-to-back rounds of the NFL Draft to pair with current standout Vincent Jackson (6-foot-5). It will be interesting to see how these big targets fare against a young Jaguars secondary.
Friday’s game should also provide some insight into the Buccaneers position battle along the offensive line. After reaching an injury settlement with former All-Pro Carl Nicks, the Buccaneers were left with a huge hole at the guard position. Jamon Meredith and Oneil Cousins will have a good first test against the Jaguars improved defensive line.
As is typically the case with the first preseason game, the studs will probably not be out there too long, but the game should be fun to watch nonetheless.