Greg Jones (Getty Images)
In the Jaguars matchup against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, you expect to hear the names of David Garrard, Fred Taylor, and Maurice Jones-Drew called early and often, as well as that of Vince Young, Albert Haynesworth, and Kyle Vanden Bosch. JagNation is going to now focus on a few players who could make an impact that may not be so high on everyone's radar.
When the Jaguars are on offense:
We know their affinity for running the football, and a key component of the league's second-leading rushing attack a year ago is fullback Greg Jones. Jones signed a deal in the offseason which made him the highest paid fullback in league history, and the Jaguars love the way he's progressed from his second knee injury two years ago. Look for Jones to have a big game blocking, and he may even find the end zone.
When talking about Jaguars tight ends, the conversation pretty much starts and finishes with Marcedes Lewis, and rightfully so. Lewis has as much ability as anyone in the league, and he is poised for a breakout season. That said, we believe there could be a big play Sunday by one of the other Jags TE's, either Richard Angulo or Greg Estandia.
Even though it's been talked about, the key to the Jaguars passing success rests not only on the arm of David Garrard, but also his backside protector in Khalif Barnes. Barnes has had somewhat of a shaky preseason and he must be effective on Sunday if the Jaguars are going to be more than one-dimensional.
Although his name has certainly been in the headlines over the past few months, look for a big game by wide receiver Matt Jones. Jones has had his best camp as a pro and he has as much ability as anyone at his position. With Reggie Williams and Jerry Porter both nursing hamstring injuries and their status for Sunday uncertain, Jones may be the Jaguars best option at wide receiver.
Everyone is now aware of the type of impact Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth can make when he's on the football field. It's obvious that Haynesworth will draw plenty of attention, and that will leave a great opportunity for fellow defensive tackle Tony Brown to be a playmaker on Sunday.
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan is a player that has legitimately been flying under the radar for a few years now. Finnegan's fine play has made the Titans transition smoothly from the Pacman Jones era and although Finnegan may not be quite as talented as Jones, he's much more dependable, and has explosive return skills in his own right.
When the Titans are on offense:
The Titans offensive line are the true stars on the offensive side of the ball, although they likely won't be featured in many commercials. Tennessee's line opens up holes for the running game, despite not much of a threat through the air, and they are one of the best units in all of football. Tennessee's line dominated Jacksonville in last season's opener, and they will be looking to employ a similar strategy on Sunday.
When Tennessee is forced to throw, wide receiver Justin Gage is Vince Young's top threat at wideout. Gage tied for the team lead last season with 55 receptions, and although it doesn't sound like many, it was 11 more than any Jaguars receiver had a year ago. Also look for Lavelle Hawkins to get open. Hawkins doesn't have the pure deep speed of former college teammate DeShawn Jackson, but he is a more consistent receiver, and could make a difference.
Everyone knows about Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson, but if the Jags are going to stop the Titans rushing attack, it will have to be with both Henderson and either Rob Meier, Tony McDaniel, and even Jimmy Kennedy. The "other" Jaguars defensive tackles allowed the team to get rid of Marcus Stroud in the offseason, and they must step up against a pretty one-dimensional Titans offense.
Brian Williams will have to play big and show that it was a smart move to move him to strong safety. It's likely that Williams will be featured in the box, and he must make sure tackles.
Although Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith is a star in Jacksonville, he is a relative unknown around the league. Sunday will be a big opportunity for Smith to make a lot of plays and get himself noticed.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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