Jaguars vs. Falcons 2013 game preview: Jacksonville, Atlanta going for first preseason win

Kevin C. Cox

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons will face off on Thursday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons will face off for each team's final preseason game on Thursday. Both teams are 0-3 in the preseason thus far, and barring a ridiculous tie, one of them will have a win heading into the regular season.

It's unlikely that we'll see very many starters in this game. The third preseason game generally sees the starters play a full half, which means they're now focused on Week 1 of the regular season. That said, there should still be plenty of competition for roster spots and backup jobs throughout all four quarters. Let's talk about the game below.

Meet the Falcons

The only significant starting spot on the line for the Falcons is the right tackle spot. Lamar Holmes is taking on Ryan Schraeder, though most believe that Holmes is going to win the job. Some believe that Holmes has already won the job and that there won't actually be much competition on Thursday.

There's also players like Joplo Bartu, Paul Worrilow and Brian Banks vying for roster spots, or even practice squad spots. Banks is obviously the big name there -- it will be interesting to see how much playing time he earns.

Meet the Jaguars

The Jaguars have already settled their quarterback position, as Blaine Gabbert has been named the starter. However, he won't see any time on Thursday as he's recovering from an injury to his throwing hand. He also didn't get playing time last week due to the injury. Chad Henne will get plenty of playing time, so if that interests you, that's what to watch for Jacksonville.

It's also unlikely that Maurice Jones-Drew ends up with any playing time. There were concerns about his conditioning due to his injury stemming from last season, but he's looked fine thus far and probably doesn't need the game time prior to Week 1.

Local Takes: Falcons

Dave Choate at The Falcoholic explains why rookie defensive end Malliciah Goodman is one of the players to watch for Thursday's game.

Malliciah Goodman. It's clear by now that Kroy Biermann should be playing more linebacker, because he looks explosive and dangerous at the position in a way he only did for stretches at defensive end. Someone needs to step up opposite Osi Umenyiora, and I'm still hoping Goodman can seize the majority of snaps because of his freakish athleticism. He's shown he can stop the run already, but it'd be nice to see him getting better penetration into the backfield.

Local Takes: Jaguars

Adam Stites at Big Cat Country believes Justin Blackmon is ready to have a breakout year ... after he serves his four-game suspension.

Justin Blackmon wasn't bad as a rookie, but he was far from dominant. His 236-yard explosion against the Houston Texans was the only game where he cracked 100 yards and it took until November for him to score his first NFL touchdown.

While he'll miss the first four games of the season due to an impending suspension, Blackmon has looked like a leaner, quicker, stronger and simply better version of his 2012 self in preseason. If that same level of contribution comes in the regular season, he'll likely make a much bigger impact than he did as a rookie.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Big Cat Country and The Falcoholic, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:



@AJCFalcons - Falcons beat writer

@ryanohalloran - Jaguars beat writer


Most sports books like the Jaguars by three points, according to OddsShark.

Next Week

The NFL regular season is upon us! The Jaguars will head back home to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday of Week 1. The Falcons will be on the road, playing their bitter rivals, the New Orleans Saints.

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