Game Recap: Jaguars 31, Redskins 14

The Jaguars won the battle of the backups in their final preseason game against the Redskins on a muggy Thursday evening at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Paid attendance was 63,953, but it appeared as if nearly half of those patrons were not able to make it to the game.

The Redskins started the game strong, as they played their starting offense and defense for one series each, and quickly took a 7-0 lead against the Jaguars second string defense. The Redskins were up 14-3 late in the first half before the Jaguars began their third string onslaught which would eventually lead to 28 unanswered points, keyed by the play of quarterback Quinn Gray, who finished 17/22, for 172 yards and two touchdowns, for a 129.4 quarterback rating.

The Jaguars offense appeared to wake up with a little over two minutes left in the first half, when Quinn Gray led the team on a seven play, 72 yard drive that used 1:37 seconds. The key play of the drive came on a short pass to Reggie Williams, who juked the defender and took the ball 40 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. That cut the deficit to 14-10 entering half-time, and the Jaguars continued to pour it on in the second half, as they outscored the 'Skins, 14-0.

As always in preseason, the score isn't nearly as important as how the individuals played, and in a game where numerous roster spots were on the line, many of the Jaguars reserves played very well, well enough to make for some tough decisions for the Jaguars coaching staff, as final cuts need to be made before Saturday's 6:00 p.m. deadline. When asked about the position battles, here's what Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio had to say--

"It's that time of year. We have to pick 53 guys. You take a bunch more than that into camp with you and that is the hard part. We are letting the guys really play tonight. All the guys that are really into the final evaluation are getting a chance to play. It's good for them and it's good for us to get that last look at them. It's a chance for a last impression."

In one of the Jaguars more interesting roster battles, there seemed to be no clear-cut winner between LaBrandon Toefield and Alvin Pearman. Toefield got plenty of work on Thursday night as he carried the ball 19 times for 84 yards, and scored a touchdown. Although those stats look impressive, most of those yards came in the second half against the Washington third string defense. Alvin Pearman, the Jaguars "Jack of all trades," had just 21 yards on eight carries, but the stats didn't tell the story. Pearman keyed the second-half comeback with a nice 28 yard punt return all the way to the Washington 20, which he did a nice job of avoiding tacklers.

Some other guys that seemed to make an impact on offense were certainly the wide receivers. Reggie Williams had his best performance of the preseason with three receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. Charles Sharon chipped in with four catches for 51 yards, and John Broussard had four catches for 30 yards.

The tight ends had a big night, led by Greg Estandia. Estandia had four catches for 46 yards, while Isaac Smolko played both ways, and on special teams. Smolko caught three balls for 21 yards, and a touchdown, and Richard Angulo had two receptions for 24 yards.

On defense, newly acquired linebacker, Roy Manning did his best to stand out, as he intercepted a Jordan Palmer pass, and took it back 27 yards to pay dirt, to put the Jaguars ahead 24-14. Brian Iwuh was active, finishing with three tackles, and Derek Landri finished with two tackles, a batted pass, and half a sack. Bruce Thornton and Chad Nkang helped themselves with strong performances again.

Offensively, a guy who didn't have their best games for the Jaguars is third-round pick Mike Walker, who had just one catch for three yards. Walker was the star of OTA's and training camp practices, but has finished the preseason with just four catches for 33 yards. With the solid play of Charles Sharon, John Broussard, and Reggie Williams, there is some talk that Walker may be an IR (injured reserve) candidate.

Defensively, second-year cornerback Dee Webb had a tough game, getting beat for two touchdowns in the first half. Webb is being pushed by Scott Starks and Bruce Thornton for a roster spot, and he didn't do himself any favors on Thursday night. Nick Greisen also had a rough night, as he overran some plays, and missed a few tackles. Greisen's night ended early with bruised ribs, and his time in Jacksonville may end early as he's being pushed by the younger, more athletic Brian Iwuh, who had a solid preseason.

In summation, the Jaguars backups played well overall Thursday night, especially when Washington started playing their backups. Roster spots were likely won and lost, but at this point, many of the competitions are too close to call. To go out on a very short limb, I believe Reggie Williams has secured his spot, as well as Chad Nkang. When Jack Del Rio was asked about Williams play, he said--

"Reggie has done a nice job. We didn't make it easy for him. We wanted to make sure we pressed him and got the most out of him. He really committed and has come on the last couple of weeks. He is doing a lot of the things we are looking for better and he's more focused. We just need that to continue."

All the Jaguars roster questions will be answered in the next 36 hours.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.


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