Jaguars home opener will be new experience for most of team

Fans watch the first half of an NFL football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla., at TIAA Bank Field. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (Stephen B. Morton, Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sunday, when the Jaguars step on the field at TIAA Bank Field with the stands (mostly) full of fans, it will be a new experience for the vast majority of the team.

Only 18 of the 53 players on the Jaguars’ active roster have played a game for the team at TIAA Bank Field without capacity restrictions.

Last year, the stadium capacity was limited during the first year of the pandemic. So Sunday’s game will be the first since before the pandemic where the fans can fill TIAA Bank Field. And because the Jaguars had just one home preseason game this year, this team doesn’t really know what to expect. But they’re hoping for some serious push from the home fans.

“Great atmosphere, we’re always expecting that,” said wide receiver Marvin Jones II. “Obviously, this will be my first game here. I’m expecting nothing less, just because we’re going to go out there and put good stuff on the field. We can’t wait. The energy is high and morale is high. We expect to do good things.”

Among the starters, only the five offensive linemen (Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann and Jawaan Taylor), wide receiver D.J. Chark, linebackers Myles Jack and Josh Allen, nickel back Tre Herndon and the specialists, punter Logan Cooke and kicker Josh Lambo have played in a game with the stands basically full.

So Sunday, it will be a new experience, even for players like second-year wide receiver Laviska Shennault, who played as a rookie under the pandemic seating rules.

“I hope it’s lit, I think it’s going to be lit,” Shennault said. “It’s going to be exciting. Hopefully, we’re going to get this win in our hometown.”

It will also be the first regular-season home game for Trevor Lawrence in his NFL career. Lawrence played in a preseason game at TIAA Bank Field, but he played onty two series, completing six of nine pass attempts.

“I’m excited,” Lawrence said. “Preseason was great, but I’m excited to see what it’s like for the first regular-season game and obviously to have family and friends here [to] see my first home game. But I’m just happy to be at home. We played three straight away ones, so it’s nice to just stay here for the game.”

Lawrence said he expects about 20 friends and family to be in attendance for the game.

As for the head coach, Urban Meyer didn’t seem too caught up in the hoopla of a home opener. He has other things on his mind.

“I just want to win that darn game and give our fans something,” Meyer said. “We all have a dream and my dream is that stadium erupts. But we’ve got to do our job.”

About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.