The NFL regular season for the Jacksonville Jaguars begins Sunday after going 2-2 in the preseason.
Jacksonville opens Week 1 against Carolina. Jacksonville will try to improve on last season’s 3-13 record in head coach Gus Bradley’s third season in which the club has only recorded seven total wins.
Offense has been the big concern. The Jaguars have averaged only 88.8 rushing yards a game in Bradley’s tenure. Production from rookie running back T.J. Yeldon and running mates Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart will hopefully bolster a lackluster ground threat.
The offense ranked 31st in the league last season. The offensive line is buoyed by free-agent signings – Jermey Parnell at right tackle and center Stefen Wisniewski.
Focus will be on the marked improvement of QB Blake Bortles. In the preseason he completed 65 percent of his passes for 461 yards, with a TD and no turnovers. The second-year signal caller out of UCF also ran for 42 yards and a TD.
THOMAS TO MISS OPENER — Tight end and two-time Pro Bowler Julius Thomas is expected to miss the first three games of the regular season following hand surgery. Thomas underwent surgery to repair ligament damage in his right hand. Thomas broke a bone in the back of his hand in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh.
INJURY UPDATE — Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, defensive end Andre Branch (knee) and wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring) continue to heal. Branch and Marks are not expected to play Sunday. Lee who has been out since the first week of training camp and is considered day-to-day as of Monday. Safety Johnathan Cyprien (finger) is expected to play against Carolina wearing a protective device. Rookie defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (knee) and veteran Ziggy Hood (foot) are on injured reserve.
GOODBYE, SCOBEE — Jacksonville traded 12th-year kicker Josh Scobee to the Steelers for Pittsburgh’s 2016 sixth-round draft pick. Scobee, the club’s all-time leading scorer with 1,022 career points, appeared in 168 regular season games.
HELLO, MYERS — Jason Myers, 24-year-old Marist graduate and former Arena Football League kicker, is Jacksonville’s new place-kicker. Myers made four of five field-goal tries in the preseason. His longest was a 55-yarder. His only miss was from 58 yards. Myers’ seven of eight kickoffs were in the end zone.
AUBURN DUO — Two free agent rookies from Auburn are on the roster. Former QB Nick Marshall, now at cornerback, and running Corey Grant have impressed enough in the preseason to earn a chance to play. Grant ran 10 times for 82 yards, including a 40-yard TD run at Washington. He averaged 28.8 yards on five kickoff returns. Marshall averaged 24 yards on four kickoff returns. Marshall would be as the Jaguars fifth cornerback behind Aaron Colvin and Davon House, Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray.
ROSTER NOTES — Wide receiver Bryan Walters, who led the team in the preseason with 15 receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown, earned the fifth receiver spot. Linebacker Thurston Armbrister from the University of Miami also earned a position as a free agent.
PRACTICE SQUAD SIGNEES — The Jaguars signed eight players to the practice squad. Receivers Neal Sterling and Tony Washington, tight end Ben Koyack, defensive lineman Richard Ash, safety Craig Loston, offensive lineman Chris Reed, linebacker Todd Thomas and cornerback Peyton Thompson.
CAPTAINS ANNOUNCED — QB Blake Bortles and tight end Marcedes Lewis on offense, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny on defense and punter Bryan Anger on special teams were voted captains. “They’re four great representatives,” said head coach Gus Bradley