How does one begin to analyze the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars? It's a challenge to be sure, made even more difficult by the slew of injuries that have plagued this team over the last several weeks. With no Maurice Jones-Drew, who on the team will give any defensive coordinator pause? Who will keep the Packers' defensive coaches up at night?
This week, I was forced to dig deeper onto a roster than at any point this season when previewing the Packers' opponents, so let's get to it.
C Brad Meester
It doesn't matter whether Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne starts at quarterback this week; Dom Capers is likely to bring pressure on the Jaguars' QB early and often. Meester gets a doubly difficult assignment: blocking B.J. Raji, who reportedly is looking like himself again, and assigning protection against the variety of pass-rushing formations that Capers will no doubt send on Sunday. Some fun facts about Meester, who has spent his entire career in Jacksonville: he has started at least 10 games at center each year since his rookie year (2000), and he has started all 16 games of a season nine times in that span.
RT Cameron Bradfield
This second-year pro is in his first season as a full-time starter. He'll get a heavy dose of Erik Walden this week, and will likely see 8-10 pass rush snaps from Clay Matthews as well. Can he hold his own against a variety of Packers pass-rushers?
WR Cecil Shorts
Here's the deep threat in the Jaguars' receiving corps. I mentioned him in the fantasy preview, but if there's anyone who can stretch the Packers' defensive backs out with his speed and elusiveness, it's Shorts. Though he has only caught 12 balls all year, he's averaging nearly 24 yards per reception and about 7 yards after the catch. That's even better YAC numbers than Randall Cobb, who averages 5.5 this season. The Packer defense will need to focus on bringing Shorts down quickly when the ball gets in his hands.
SS Dawan Landry
Dwight Lowery, one of the Jaguars' starting safeties, looks to be out once again this week, and both starting cornerbacks missed time in practice during the week. That makes Landry is the only healthy member of the unit, and a key player for the Packers to game-plan around. He's a solid tackler and good against the run, but he can be stretched by deep routes. Look for the Packers' receivers to test him deep early and often.
DE Austen Lane
I'll be honest, there was initially only one reason why I was going to mention Lane this week: he was born in Iola, WI, which is about a half hour from Stevens Point. Lane played college football at Murray State, and started nine games in his rookie year of 2010 without a sack. Once I started researching him, I found that he's been one of the few players who has generated a consistent pass rush this year (after coming back from a foot injury suffered in the preseason). Lane plays right end, so he'll be seeing Marshall Newhouse for much of the game. He'll likely be one of the players the Packers will be accounting for regularly on the Jaguars' line.