Here are the storylines that I’ll be following on Sunday during the Jaguars home opener:
1. How will the Jaguars handle the injuries on the offensive line? The line wasn’t exactly hitting on all cylinders before the injuries. What kind of protection will David Garrard have? Will the Jaguars be able to run the ball? Last week against Tennessee, the Garrard was sacked 7 times and they rushed for just 33 yards. You can’t win with that kind of line play. The spotlight will certainly be on guards Uche Nwaneri and Tutan Reyes.
2. Who lines up at wide recevier? Dennis Northcutt and Troy Williamson didn’t practice on Thursday. Jerry Porter and Mike Walker did. Porter and Walker were gameday inactives last week. They are clearly the most talented wide receivers on the roster, and the Jaguars sure could use some big plays down the field.
3. What kind of reception will Marcus Stroud receive? The former Jaguar should get a round of applause from the fans before the game, but will he be extra motivated during the game? Stroud has been low-keying it this week with the Buffalo media, but you just know that he’ll be fired up for this one.
4. Who wins the special teams battle? The Bills have three of the most potent return men in the game, led by Roscoe Parrish, who has burned the Jaguars before. The Jaguars are hoping that Brian Witherspoon can continue to affect field position as he did in Tennessee. Witherspoon leads the NFL in kickoff return average after one week, and leads the AFC in punt return average. Also, Jaguars punter Adam Podlesh has to do a better job of flipping the field. He has not punted like a 4th round pick.
5. Will the Jaguars feed off the home fans? The Jaguars need to bounce back from last week’s loss. While the Giants proved last year that you can still win the Super Bowl after an 0-2 start, but with games against Indianapolis, Houston and Pittsburgh coming up, the Jaguars shouldn’t press their luck.