Jack Del Rio has altered his approach to this, his fifth training camp with the Jaguars. The length and physical contact in the team's practice sessions during camp has been less than in previous years. At the same time, the Jaguars coach made it clear that the starting units would likely play more in the preseason games than they have in the past.
In last Saturday's game in Tampa, both starting groups played into the third quarter. Even after starting QB David Garrard led the offense to an opening-quarter scoring drive, the No. 1 line stayed in the game for a couple more series in front of backup QB Cleo Lemon.
While the top 22 players won't see a similar amount of playing time this Thursday in the fourth and final preseason game in Washington, Del Rio said the starters are likely to play more in this game than they have in previous such final preseason games.
"I said when we started preseason that we were going to play more in this preseason. We played more in the first game overall and more in the second game (and now the third game as well)," the Jaguars coach said. "And I would suspect we'll play a little bit more in the fourth game.
"We have a plan and we've been able to stay the course with that plan, and my plan is to play our guys more in the preseason. We backed down certain things in camp that we thought were necessary for the good of our football team, and along with our plan, was to do a little more in the preseason games and that's how we're working at it."
When it was first disclosed that Jerry Porter had undergone surgery to fix his ailing hamstring, coach Jack Del Rio announced at the time that the recovery timetable was six to eight weeks. This Friday will mark six weeks since Porter had his surgery on July 18.
Del Rio hinted last week that Porter could begin working out on the sidelines this week but gave no indication that he would be ready for the team's final preseason game on Thursday in Washington. If the Jaguars take it to the regular-season opener in Tennessee on Sept. 7, it will be just over seven weeks of recovery time. It's still doubtful, however, that Porter will be at 100 percent for the regular-season opener at Tennessee.
Porter was not on the field for practice on Monday, and Del Rio stated it would be two weeks to get him up to speed with the offense after he did return.
"When he returns [to practice], you guys can start the timer,'' Del Rio said.
With Reggie Williams also on the sidelines for the first two preseason games and with neither Dennis Northcutt nor Troy Williamson making a catch in those two games, there has been a concern that the team's top four receivers were all without a reception during this time span. Williamson was again shut out in the Tampa Bay game with Northcutt breaking the ice for the quartet with three grabs for 39 yards, including an eight-yard TD catch in the first quarter. Williams saw his first action of the year and caught one pass for seven yards.
Two players who could make the team's final 53-man roster in backup roles, DB Chad Nkang and DE Jeremy Mincey, are likely to return to action this week, though neither may be fit enough to see time on Thursday against the Washington Redskins in the Jaguars' final preseason game.
Coach Del Rio and his team had to brave the elements last week when Tropical Storm Fay grazed Jacksonville.
Del Rio explained, "If it's just raining, we'll go out and practice in the rain. It's not always going to be comfortable when you play football. But if there are real high winds and a lot of lightening involved, we will not put ourselves out in that environment. We'll find an indoor spot and work there."
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