JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jaguars loss to the Saints 24-20 Thursday night to open the preseason did not include 12 Jaguars players, 11 who didn't dress out. Among the players who missed the opener, defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Taven Bryan, starting right tackle Jeremy Parnell, starting left guard Andrew Norwell and wide receiver Keelan Cole.
Here are my four key takeaways from the game:
1. You couldn't ask for a better start to the preseason for the starting offense--even missing three starters. The Jaguars took the opening kickoff and drove 79 yards in 15 plays. The drive took 7:02 off the first quarter clock and included three third-down conversions by Blake Bortles. On the drive, Leonard Fournette ran five times for 24 yards and Bortles ran it in from two yards out to give the Jaguars the first score of the game.
It was a far cry from Bortles' preseason last year when he had to re-win his starting job.
2. Cody Kessler's numbers look good. The backup quarterback completed 14 of 17 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. He guided the Jaguars to three scoring drives, including a touchdown pass to tight end Scott Orndoff. While he clearly doesn't have the command of the offense that Bortles does, he did show, playing with, and against backups, that the Jaguars have a chance to have a backup quarterback who can come in in a pinch.
3. The wide receiver group continues to be a "by-committee" approach. With Keelan Cole out, Marqise Lee (one catch for five yards), Dede Westbrook (three for 32) and Donte Moncrief (three for 21) all had catches on the opening drive. Lee and Westbrook both caught third-down conversions. Rookie DJ Chark was not targeted by Bortles, but ended the game with one receptions for 15 yards. The competition continues.
4. Injuries: Before the game, guard Andrew Norwell felt tightness in his calf and did not play as a precaution. Linebacker Blair Brown was evaluated for a concussion.
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