Friday, August 14th, 7:30 p.m.
Kickoff Temperature: 81 degrees, 15 percent chance of precipitation
Line: Don't bet on preseason games.
The Jaguars get to kickoff 2015 against one of the best offenses in the NFL from a year ago in the Steelers. As per usual regarding preseason football, the final outcome matters very little and we'll be observing how the guys actually play. The Jaguars will be without Marqise Lee, Jared Odrick and T.J. Yeldon.
Here's What To Look For:
1. Can the Jaguars offense look functional? We know how much the team struggled offensively last year and they get a Steelers team with many more questions than answers on defense. We don't know how much the starters will play, but when the Jags first-team offense is in it would be nice if they could move the football.
2. Which center will look better? Second-year pro Luke Bowanko will get the start, but he's in a competition with veteran Stefen Wisnieski. Gus Bradley said that he would like to get the offensive line jobs figured out sooner rather than later to build continuity. We will look at which guy plays better and perhaps next week's game against the Giants will determine the starter.
3. The defensive line rotation. Jobs are up for grabs on the defensive line and the team has perhaps the deepest rotation in years. Can Ziggy Hood play well enough to keep his roster spot? Will rookie Michael Bennett continue to play well and possibly take it?
4. Which running back will look best? Rookie T.J. Yeldon will not play and that leaves an opening for the rest of the running backs to impress. Storm Johnson missed the early part of camp and seems to be behind the proverbial 8-ball in the running back competition. Bernard Pierce has looked good and Denard Robinson will have to hold him off.
5. How fast will they swarm to the football on defense? The Jaguars defense has looked really fast during training camp practices and it's time to see if that carries over into the games. Sergio Brown has added an attitude to the safety position and Telvin Smith has been all over the field. Let's see how that measures up against one of the best offenses in the NFL.
What We Think Will Occur
1. The first team offense will struggle. It's still very early in camp and the offensive line looked terrible in the team's scrimmage. It's tough to imagine that being magically fixed in less than a week of work against guys who will be playing even harder.
2. Marcedes Lewis will make a couple plays. The Jaguars veteran tight end may not play much, but he has been having an amazing camp thus far. Lewis has been re-energized by Julius Thomas' presence and he should carry that on into the game.
3. Bernard Pierce will be the best back. The Jaguars have a running back competition and it's likely that the veteran Pierce will play the best, based on his training camp performance.
4. The Steelers first-team offense will move the ball. Pittsburgh looked bad on Sunday and Mike Tomlin will have his guys ready to put forth a better performance. They have great weapons and are a great test for the Jags renovated defense.
5. The outcome will not be favorable for the good guys. The Steelers have already played a game and they're a little farther along than the Jaguars are at this point in their rebuild. Pittsburgh has more depth and that will likely lead to a victory, not that it matters.