Preseason results generally are not very meaningful. There are a select few cases where they can actually matter, though. The performance of Jets inside linebacker Demario Davis on Saturday might be one of those cases. He really needs to perform well to settle nerves about the position.
Davis was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft with much fanfare. One prominent pundit proclaimed that Davis would have been a first round pick had he played college at a bigger name school. Rex Ryan made outlandish comparisons of Davis' leadership skills to those of Ray Lewis. As a rookie, he played sparingly and did not look particularly good in his limited opportunities.
When Bart Scott was cut, Davis was promoted to a starting role. Whenever an unproven player takes on a bigger role, it is always reason for a bit of concern. We don't really know what they can do. Davis did little to limit those concerns in the preseason opener. He got lost multiple times in coverage on big gains the Lions had through the air. Davis' coverage lapses are significant because this team is going to ask him to be good against the pass. The safety position is likely to be a tangible weakness considering the players the Jets are going to trot out there. Linebackers are going to have to carry a fairly big part of the load in coverage as a result, and Davis' speed relative to the rest of a slow corps of linebackers makes him the only real candidate of the group to potentially be good.
A good outing against Jacksonville will guarantee nothing, but it can at least settle some nerves that Davis understands and can execute his assignments. Another ugly performance would be cause for some alarm in a way that even goes beyond concerns the Jets will bring back Bart Scott as "insurance."
So make Davis one of the key guys you watch against the Jaguars.