Jaguars arrive in London to increasingly knowledgeable fans

Leonard Fournette stretches with team, will not play Sunday

LONDON – The Jaguars arrived in London Friday morning and went right to work, practicing at Allianz Field, home of the legendary rugby club Saracens. Hundreds of fans, including many from the U.K. were on hand to watch the team go through their Friday walk-thru. 

In addition to the number of fans attending, the awareness of the game has improved among British fans since the Jaguars first began playing games in London in 2013.

"The NFL is doing a great job of expanding out here," Jaguars guard A.J. Cann said. "You see these fans coming out from all over the place, just to come watch us warm up. It shows they are very passionate about it and I think they love this game."

That's not to say that the experience in London has completely become Americanized. Most weeks, the kicker isn't a highly sought after interview. But when the Jaguars are in London, Josh Lambo becomes a media darling, as does former Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee, who joined Fred Taylor as Jaguars ambassadors in London this week.

"I remember when I played here against the 49ers and the fans didn't know what to cheer for," Scobee said. "I had a short field goal, made it and the crowd went nuts. Slowly, but surely, the fans are learning the game."

The Jaguars could use some "home-field" advantage this week. They have won three straight games in London, but have lost their last three regular season games in 2018. The Jaguars have learned how to travel to the London game, opting for a Thursday departure and Friday arrival. Teams who have come earlier in the week have not performed as well in the past several years. And since the Jaguars are the only team to make an annual trek to London, there are more and more fans of the team who attend the game.

"When we came here the first couple of times, they cheered for anybody," Jaguars defensive tackle Abry Jones said. "Since we started winning, they cheer for us, so that's the only real difference I care about."

British Jaguars' fans, many of whom make it an annual event to attend the Jaguars game at Wembley Stadium, feel a part of the Jaguars success here.

"It never gets old. We come here every year looking forward to it," said Matt Wright, a Jaguars fan from England. "We appreciate that i actually happens, because a lot of fans of teams don't get to have this experience."

Wright was among the hundreds of British fans who watched the Jaguars practice at Allianz Field. He watched the practice with fellow Brit Matt Harris.

"The opportunity to see them play less than an hour from where I live, its amazing," Harris said. "To meet a few players and watch them practice is a great opportunity and I think the Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville for allowing it to happen."

Of note, Leonard Fournette traveled with the team, and although he has been ruled out for Sunday, the Jaguars hope his personality can help a struggling Jaguars offense. Cornerback A.J. Bouye didn't travel with the team due to a calf injury. Nickelback Tyler Patmon also didn't travel with a neck injury. With Bouye, Patmon and D.J. Hayden doubtful for Sunday's game, the Jaguars are thin at cornerback. Tight end James O'Shaugnessy was also ruled out with a hip injury.


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