Right now, the Jacksonville Jaguars are an undefeated ball club. Their head coach hasn't lost a game. Their offense isn't blemished. Their defense hasn't been ridiculed.
It's just the preseason.
While the Jaguars and Dolphins get together on Friday night for a little more than a "friendly" competition at EverBank Field, there is more riding on this game than a win and a loss, especially for the Dolphins, who turn the ball over too many times in a loss to the Cowboys last week.
The Jaguars will likely be without star receiver Cecil Shorts and defensive end Jeremy Mincey as well as rookie defensive back, Jonathan Cyprien. What that means for the franchise is other rookies and roster-wanting players will need to step up their game and show a little magic on the field.
Here are a few things to look for in Friday's matchup.
- Tannehill and Wallace on the field together: The two have been working on their timing and the “long ball” in practice. Tannehill played sparingly in the game against the Cowboys, while Wallace stood on the sideline in street clothes. If both play, let’s see how they work against the young Jaguars defense.
- Maurice Jones-Drew: The running back has come along very nicely so far in camp and looks like the player we saw two seasons ago – the one where he rushed for 1,606 yards. The Miami defense, especially the front four, will be one of the best in football this season. Let’s see how both react to each other.
- Gabbert vs. Henne: While the Dolphins know who their starter is behind center, this battle or competition is far from over in North Florida. Gabbert is the better athlete while Henne is the more dependable veteran. Both are listed as the starter on the depth chart. It is really as close as it can get on the practice field.
- Lamar Miller vs. Daniel Thomas: I was already to anoint Thomas as the starter before camp. Now, I clearly see Miller as the man to beat. Good size at 5’11” and 208 pounds. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and he seems to be a bit faster. This is a homecoming for Thomas, who played ball in the Jacksonville area. Add Mike Gillislee to the mix and this is a nice battle in camp to watch.
- Miami offensive line vs. Jacksonville defensive front: Both units have been talked about quite a bit. The Dolphins have Jonathan Martin moving to left tackle, which has been a slow process. The team lost Jake Long in free agency. Mike Pouncey has been playing guard and center and Josh Samunda has seen time with the first unit. Add rookie Dallas Thomas to the fray and there are plenty of changes. The Jaguars will start Jason Babin Sen’Derrick Marks, Roy Miller and Tyson Alualu. This is a team of speed. How they handle the line will determine if they can get to the passer. Also, will other rookies step up like Pannel Egboh did in the scrimmage last Saturday?