Insider: Jaguars Preseason Notebook

Thomas Off The Bubble?

No general manager wants to release one of his draft picks. Especially when that draft pick received a contract extension just over a season ago. Following a terrible 2011 campaign and a poor start of training camp, Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas has put general manager Gene Smith in an unenviable position.

With the much needed upgrades the Jaguars made at wide receiver with Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans in free agency, along with Justin Blackmon in the first round of the draft, Mike Thomas’ role has been greatly diminished. With his regression in camp, Thomas needs a solid preseason just to make the roster and he accomplished a great deal in the team’s exhibition opener.

Mike Thomas caught four passes for 89 yards in the team’s 32-31 come from behind victory over the Giants and likely reaffirmed his own roster spot.

“It’s all about consistency,” Thomas said after the game. “It’s all about staying consistent as a team and making plays.”

With Thomas receiving over $2 million in roster bonus money this spring, releasing him would be a bitter pill to swallow. If Thomas can continue to play well in preseason, the Jaguars won’t have to take that medicine.

Gabbert Takes Strides

The stat sheet from Friday night’s game says that Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert connected on 5 of 10 throws for 62 yards and a touchdown. He also lost a fumble on a sack and accounted for seven points in three possessions.

It’s safe to say Blaine Gabbert’s performance on Friday night didn’t remind anyone of 2011 Aaron Rodgers.

For Jaguars fans that witnessed a historically inept passing offense last year, Friday night represented hope that the Jacksonville passing game can at the very least be functional, if not efficient.

Jacksonville took its opening possession and drove the team 89 yards down the field, the drive culminating with a perfectly thrown Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts fade in the corner of the end zone. This came against a full complement of Giants starters on defense.

“I was extremely proud of Blaine tonight,” Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey said. “No more pressure on him than anybody in the stadium when he walked into that huddle. And to take a team 90 yards and the things he did on third down. To do it all right and not do anything self-inflicted and move the ball down there against that defense, I was very proud of him.”

One great preseason drive does not make a Pro Bowl season but it does give Jaguars fans something that they didn’t have last season- hope at the quarterback position.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for SportsTalkFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

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