5 Jaguars to watch in 2021 season opener vs. Texans

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We’ve made it. As of tomorrow afternoon, Jacksonville Jaguars football is officially back as the team is currently in Houston awaiting their matchup with the Texans. And for the first time in what feels like a very long time, there seems as though there is room for genuine excitement around the facility.

With change comes opportunity, and there has been plenty of change in Jacksonville since the end of the 2020 season. There is a new regime, a new head coach in Urban Meyer, and at long last, there looks to be a franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence.

Here are five players to keep a close eye on during the Jaguars’ opener as they try and start things off 1-0.

QB Trevor Lawrence

Aug 29, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Who better to start this list off with? The excitement in Jacksonville has been palpable ever since the New York Jets beat the Los Angeles Rams towards the end of last year. The No. 1 overall pick seemed to figure a lot of things out during his third preseason start against Dallas, and fans will be eager to see that talent translate to winning football in the regular season. Lawrence will be dealing with starters this time around, though, and the Texans will be eager to welcome him to the NFL. At the same time, Houston's defense wasn't that great last season, and many would argue that they didn't make a lot of upgrades. That said, they could be a perfect unit for Lawrence to get his feet wet against.

WR DJ Chark Jr.

Oct 27, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) awaits the snap during the first quarter against the New York Jets at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this offseason, Meyer revealed that he wasn't the highest on Chark's 2020 film, stating he was "a big guy who played little" last season. So at the beginning of training camp, it was clear for all to see that Urban was taking a vested interest in training the 24-year-old wideout. Having missed the preseason with a finger injury, the Jaguars will be keen to see their number one receiver back and providing the speed Meyer desires on the perimeter.

OLB K'Lavon Chaisson

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson (45) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, the Jaguars' pass-rush was lackluster at best. Josh Allen missed considerable time with injuries, and a lot of pressure was put on Chaisson as a rookie to provide pressure up front. The second-year pass rusher looks to be much more comfortable in Joe Cullen's 3-4 scheme, and will be hoping a revamped defensive line will allow him to showcase why the previous front office spent a top-20 pick on him.

CB Shaquill Griffin

Jaguars CB (26) Shaquill Griffin catches a ball during drills on the practice fields outside TIAA Bank Field during the Jacksonville Jaguars mandatory veterans minicamp session Monday morning, June 14, 2021. [Florida Times-Union]

Re-tooling the secondary was a point of emphasis for the Jaguars this offseason. They dipped into the free-agent market for multiple starters, one of whom was former Seattle Seahawk, Shaquill Griffin. Immediately coming in as their CB1, Griffin was named a defensive captain this week. With the respect of his teammates will come great responsibility, though, and the Jags’ staff will be hoping he can lead by example with a stellar showing this week against Brandin Cooks and the Texans. Immediately, coming in as their CB1 (due to his experience), the Florida native has been voted a defensive captain during his first year on the team. With the respect of his teammates will come great responsibility, and the Jags' staff will be hoping he can lead by example with a stellar showing this week against Brandin Cooks and the Texans.

S Andre Cisco

Aug 14, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Davion Davis (18) is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andre Cisco (38) in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Although he was not named a starter this week, rookie Andre Cisco has impressed during training camp. The former Syracuse defensive back gained a reputation for creating turnovers in college, garnering 12 interceptions throughout his tenure there. Many eyes will be on Cisco as he's garnered a lot of buzz, and fans should pay close attention to his game to see if he can carve a more significant role for himself as we go through the season. Many eyes will be on Cisco as he's garnered a lot of buzz, and fans should pay close attention to his game to see if he can carve a more significant role for himself as we go through the season.

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