Jaguars preseason opener all about rookie QB Gardner Minshew

Jaguars preseason opener all about rookie QB Gardner Minshew

By: Hays Carlyon

Time to lock it down, Gardner.

Despite all the talk of who won’t play in tonight’s Jaguars preseason opener at Baltimore, we know backup quarterback Gardner Minshew will. The sixth-round rookie can probably wrap up the backup job behind starter Nick Foles with a quality performance.

Minshew needs to show what he has so far in training camp. He’s decisive and effective when he plays within the framework of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s scheme. Minshew gets in rhythm quick in 11-on-11 work mainly because he punishes the defense for not making corrections. Minshew opened team drills with a completion to receiver Terrelle Pryor on the same post route for a first down in three consecutive practices.

Hey, if they aren’t going to cover it why go away from it?

That’s the kind of smarts and savvy you like to see from any quarterback let alone a rookie. It reminds you of why Jaguars personnel chief Tom Coughlin was so giddy about Minshew’s mental makeup in his press conference the day the Jaguars drafted him.

When Minshew extends the play and becomes an athlete, bad things happen. He doesn’t have the arm strength to make throws when moving.

There are other significant players to watch tonight but Minshew is the headliner.

My guess is the following healthy players will be held out: Foles, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Dede Westbrook, C Brandon Linder, LG Andrew Norwell, DE Calais Campbell, DE Yannick Ngakoue, DT Marcell Dareus, DT Abry Jones, LB Myles Jack and CB Jalen Ramsey.

Here are five other players besides Minshew to watch tonight.

  • WR DJ Chark

Why: The second-year veteran has consistently made big plays throughout training camp. He should get a couple of series and the chance to flash his big-play potential a couple of times.

  • DE Josh Allen

Why: The rookie first-rounder looks sensational as an athlete but is still figuring out the best plan to get around the offensive tackles.

  • FS Jarrod Wilson

Why: The first-year starter at free safety struggled in the two joint practices with the Ravens earlier this week. Wilson needs to play well tonight to keep his confidence up. The high-powered Chiefs come to Jacksonville to open the season in exactly a month.

  • RT Jawaan Taylor

Why: The second-round rookie needs to be disciplined. He looks good, but this will be a good environment for him to get 15-20 snaps and get used to the speed of an NFL game. No penalties would be a good night for Taylor, because it’s unlikely he’ll look physically outmatched.

  • LB Leon Jacobs

Why: The second-year strongside linebacker needs to show he is making strides after a decent rookie season. The Jaguars depth at linebacker is woeful. Everyone would feel better about things if Jacobs is consistently productive against Baltimore.

(You can email Hays at haysc@1010xl.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)