Jaguars Rookies Shine With Big Plays in 2023 Preseason Debut

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 28-23 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in a 2023 Preseason Week 1 game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…

  1. Good early signs. This wasn’t a perfect performance. That’s not expected in Preseason Week 1. But it overall was a good performance, particularly with the first and second teams playing well in the first half. And there were some good early signs – not only from young veterans, but from rookies. It’s always good when a team leads when its starters leave a preseason game, and the Jaguars led 8-0 when the first-team offense and defense left late in the first quarter. The Jaguars also registered three sacks in the first half, which won’t likely silence observers worried about the pass rush but was a lot better than if the Jaguars got no pressure. Particularly encouraging here: Rookie Yasir Abdullah, who registered a second-quarter sack and got good pressure on a sack by defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter later in the quarter. Rookie tight end Brenton Strange’s strong block on safety Markquese Bell helped spring rookie running back Tank Bigsby’s 34-yard run in the second quarter on the Jaguars’ second touchdown drive of the game. That’s good stuff from the rookie class.
  2. Remember: It’s just preseason. This was as true when the Jaguars were controlling the game from midway through the first quarter through close to halftime as it was when quarterback Trevor Lawrence opened the game by throwing a long pass that safety Juanyeh Thomas intercepted to give Dallas possession at the Cowboys 41. What you wanted to see from the Jaguars Saturday was overall good execution early and flashes from young players. You got that. The Jaguars also spent the game having to change special teams strategy. With long snapper Ross Matiscik out after an early-first-quarter punt with a shoulder injury, the Jaguars went for two on point-afters thereafter and opted to go for it on fourth-and-three from the nine, a play that resulted in Lawrence’s lone touchdown pass of the game – to Christian Kirk. Pederson said it best afterward: “Some good and some bad, obviously.” It’s Preseason Week 1. That’s the norm.

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