Don't expect first game jitters for Jaguars' rookies

Jaguars counting on 2018 draft class to contribute immediately


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rookie minicamp, organized team activities and the preseason have come and gone. The Jaguars rookies are a little over four months into their first season in the NFL. Sunday’s season opener against the New York Giants is when all of that preparation will pay off. 

“I already had those nervous jitter in the preseason so I feel like I’ll be more excited this time,” said safety Ronnie Harrison. “Finally coming around and really getting a chance to strap it up and I can’t wait to get the season started for real.”

The Jaguars defense is loaded with veterans. One of the biggest surprises of training camp was how quickly Leon Jacobs ascended from being a seventh round pick to starting at strong-side linebacker. It’s the same position Myles Jack played as a rookie and he’s confident that Jacobs will be ready for Sunday. 

“I was really proud of the way he handled himself in the preseason,” said Jack. “He did really good, didn’t have too many mistakes and handled his own. I just told him opening day is going to be a little faster and when we make it to the playoffs it will be even faster. He’ll be ready. He’s a ball player. I don’t have to worry about him. He’s out there making the checks and communicating.”

Losing Marqise Lee to a season ending knee injury moves every Jaguars receiver one spot up the depth chart. Wide receiver is often one of the hardest positions for rookies to come in and make an immediate impact. Any plans to bring DJ Chark along slowly are out the door. Jacksonville needs him to contribute right away and second-round pick can already feel a different vibe around the team this week. 

“The whole dynamic of practice has changed,” said Chark. “The attention to detail has changed. We know that once we play in this game it’s on the record for the year. Everybody is more focused and I know I’m going to be excited being out there for the first time, seeing the stands full and playing in New York.”