By: Ian Logue
Here in New England most fans are looking forward to tonight’s exhibition game against the Jaguars to get a glimpse at some of the new players on the Patriots roster, and hoping to get a taste of what’s to come this season.
In Jacksonville, they also have some new faces of their own, and they’re wondering how their starters will match-up against New England’s, even if it’s just for a couple of series.
Blaine Gabbert is getting the start tonight for Jacksonville. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
For Jaguars fans all eyes are going to be on quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who is getting a rare opportunity to play with the starters since David Garrard is going to be sitting this one out after suffering a back injury last week. For anyone not familiar with Gabbert, he was the 10th overall pick in April’s draft out of Missouri, and he’s obviously expected to be their quarterback of the future. Needless to say, tonight could potentially be the first time we get a glimpse of a guy we could see the Patriots battling against in the coming years.
The expectations there are growing, and it’s because the team went on a spending spree following the start of free agency. The team picked up linebackers Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, as well as safety Dawan Landry in hopes of improving a defense that gave up a franchise-record 419 points last year. The team also added free agent offensive lineman Tony Moll yesterday, and he’s expected to step in and play tonight in front of Gabbert.
Moll’s signing is interesting because he’s only seen a walkthrough since joining the team, but he’s a versatile guy. In his five years in the NFL, he’s started 21 games at three different positions, including 12 at right guard, seven at right tackle and two at tight end. He was reportedly lined up at right guard Wednesday.
However, with just two weeks of practice under their belts, head coach Jack Del Rio is hoping that their fans don’t get too excited or disappointed based on what they see tonight here in Foxboro.
“We’re not going to be an excuse-making franchise or organization, but the reality is that some patience is required,” said Del Rio this week. “In a game like this, we know how we’re approaching it. If other people don’t, I’d like to try and help them, but that’s the reality.”
Following Gabbert, according to most reports it’s tough to say who they’ll play after that. Luke McCown reportedly has an undisclosed ailment and his status for tonight is up in the air, which leaves Todd Bouman as the next guy in line. Bouman’s time should be interesting because he’s apparently only practiced once during this preseason.
Posluszny, who is a former Bills linebacker and has a lifetime record of 0-7 against New England, is hoping to face Tom Brady and some of the other starters tonight to get a feel for how his new team stacks up against them.
“It’s still early on, but it’ll show where we stack up against big-time competition,” Posluszny told Jacksonville.com.
OTHER NOTES: Of the 90 players on their roster, only 81 of them made the trip for the Jaguars. Left behind included names like starting cornerback Derek Cox, running back Maurice Jones-Drew and defensive end Aaron Kampman. Jones-Drew and Kampan are both still recovering from offseason knee injuries, while Cox is dealing with a calf injury. They’re also without right tackle Eben Britton, who is dealing with back trouble…..The Jaguars added another free agent Thursday that Patriots fans may recognize, signing free agent linebacker Matt Roth. According to Adam Schefter they’ve signed him to a 1-year deal worth $3-million, which comes a little over a week after visiting here in New England.