Jacksonville Sports Day

NFL: Jaguars Win Preseason Opener Over Patriots

With QB Tom Brady and the bulk of the New England Patriots’ projected starters watching from the sideline, the defending Super Bowl champions opened the preseason Thursday night with a 31-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Foxborough, Mass.

New England’s defense struggled, allowing three touchdowns of 42 or more yards on the night, including a 97-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to Keelan Cole, who blew by Patriots second-year cornerback Cyrus Jones.

Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette carried nine times for 31 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

On two possessions, the Jaguars first-team offense registered 48 total net yards on 13 plays (32 net rushing yards, 16 net passing yards), including a 10-play, 28-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 27-yard field goal by Jason Myers.

The field position on the scoring drive was set up by a 41-yard punt return by WR Rashad Greene Sr. QB Blake Bortles finished the evening completing 3 of 5 passes for 16 yards in two series.

“I just had it as the first quarter. I had him going in there for the first quarter with the players. We had a bunch of good work all week against the Patriots,” said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. “He took the majority of the snaps [during the week of practice]. It was the plan coming in and we just stuck with the plan.”

Cole, who played collegiately at Kentucky Wesleyan and led the nation in kickoffs returned for TDs  and ranked second in all-purpose yards per game (198.1), caught the TD from Henne in the second quarter to put the Jaguars up, 10-3.

Cole was the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year in 2016

Fournette was selected with the fourth overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.

“Good. I thought he looked good. I think he has to run a little bit with his pads lower at times. Obviously, you can see the power that he has. It is good to get up there. It’s good to run,” Marrone said of Fournette. ” It’s good to get the pads going, obviously in this type of atmosphere. Then on the other turn, we have to do a better job tackling. I think that is one thing that showed up in the first half. And I know our tackling, our fits in the gap, making sure we are lined up properly and getting ready to play through and make the tackles.”

Fournette starred at LSU and set or tied 23 school records during his career in Baton Rouge. Fournette was the fastest player in school history to eclipse the 2,000- and 3,000-yard rushing marks for the Tigers. Fournette totaled over 100 rushing yards in 19 of his 32 career games at LSU and surpassed the 200-yard mark on five occasions.

In the third quarter, third-year running back Corey Grant took a handoff and ran 79 yards for a TD.

Jagiars’ rookie Dede Westbrook caught a 42-yard TD pass from QB Brandon Allen towards the end of the third quarter to finish a seven-play, 81-yard scoring drive. The 2017 fourth-round draft pick totaled 21 collegiate TD receptions in just two seasons at Oklahoma and was the school’s first-ever Biletnikoff Award winner, given annually to the best collegiate receiver, after posting a school record 17 receiving TDs in 2016.

New England’s Jimmy Garoppolo started under center and played well in more than a half of action. After a slow start, the fourth-year player completed 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

“The first thing we were looking for is the discipline. In the first half, we only had one penalty as a team. Special teams, take a look over it, then obviously trying to create a run game and be physical,” added Marrone. ” I think when you get that big return – you come down here and we had a missed opportunity where we could of scored a touchdown or getting three out of it. Those are the things that will kind of get you, so I will talk about to them offensively about in there.”

JAGUARS NOTES: The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed fifth-year running backJonathan Grimes. To make room on the roster, the club waived/injured running back Tyler Gaffney. If Gaffney clears waivers tomorrow, he will revert to the team’s reserve/injured list. The Jaguars also released offensive lineman Branden Albert from the reserve/retired list.

Grimes, 5-10, 210, has appeared in 53 career games with 3 starts and has totaled 619 rushing yards and 2 TDs on 141 carries. Grimes has registered 53 career receptions for 436 yards and one TD.

Grimes has previously spent time with the Houston Texans, the New York Jets and appeared in two games for the Jaguars during the 2012 season. Grimes was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Houston in 2012 after a stellar career at William & Mary.

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