With the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars kicking off later today in Preseason Week 1 action, it's time for us to get a better look at the Jaguars. What better way to do just that than to turn to a man who covers the team everyday? I had a chance to speak with Alfie Crow, the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country, who gives us an insider look at Miami's opponents.
Kevin Nogle (KN): How healthy are the Jaguars early in training camp this year?
Alfie Crow (AC): The Jaguars are fortunately very healthy in training camp thus far. Justin Blackmon had groin surgery and began the season on the PUP and second-round pick Jonathan Cyprien is on the NFI with a hamstring issue, but outside of that it's been some just minor injuries such as a calf strain for Cecil Shorts III and a concussion for Jeremy Mincey. This time last year the Jaguars had already lost two players for the season.
KN: Other than the black and gold helmet, what excites you the most about the 2013 Jaguars?
AC: Everything, for the most part, is new for the Jaguars in 2013 which is what makes it exciting. For the most part I think most fans know the team isn't going to win a lot of games in 2013, but the expectation is that the team will be more entertaining with the turnover on the roster and the coaching staff, the thought is they can get more out of what the last staff did. It's also a brand new offense and defensive scheme, so there will be new things to watch.
KN: Johnathan Cyrpien was a player that had a lot of people talking leading into the draft. How did he look in minicamps, what's the status of his hamstring injury, and will he be starting this year?
AC: In OTA's and minicamp Jonathan Cyprien was considered the MVP of the defense, making plays all over the place. He's playing the box safety position in Gus Bradley's defense, but he also has the ability to play deep coverage which should allow the team to move him around. Cyprien has been out the past two weeks, which was expected, and the team feels he will be back by the second preseason game but they're taking it slow, since hamstring issues can seemingly linger. If he's healthy, he should be an opening day starter at safety.
KN: With this being the Jaguars' first preseason game, the assumption is Blaine Gabbert will start, with Chad Henne, Mike Kafka, and Matt Scott taking the majority of the snaps. Has Gabbert solidified his role as the starter in the regular season opener, or are Henne, Kafka, and, potentially, Scott still in the mix?
AC: Neither quarterback through OTAs and training camp has really separated themselves, which is in my opinion not good news for Chad Henne winning the starting job. Blaine Gabbert and Henne have been pretty even, with in my opinion Gabbert slightly more consistent, which should lean towards the younger guy winning the starting job. Mike Kafka and Matt Scott are battling each other for the third quarterback position, if the Jaguars decide to keep three, but neither seems to be in the mix for the starting job.
KN: Given this is an early preseason game, the starters will not play much this week. Who from the reserves group should Dolphins fans watch? Who needs to be impressive this week to keep any chance of making the roster?
AC: There are a couple of backups to keep an eye on for the Jaguars, including a few rookies. Safety Josh Evans was drafted in the sixth-round, but he's had a nice training camp and there is some thought he could push Dwight Lowery for a starting role. Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and wide receiver Mike Brown have also had good camps and should carry that over to the preseason. A big guy to watch on Friday is second-round pick from 2012, defensive end Andre Branch, who's been pretty well invisible in training camp so far.
I want to say thank you to Crow for taking the time to answer my questions and give us a better look at the Jaguars. Make sure you check out Big Cat Country for even more Jacksonville coverage.
The Dolphins and Jaguars kick off tonight at 7:30pm ET, with local television coverage in South Florida on CBS.