JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars' starting offense got off to a hot start to kick off the preseason in a 24-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday at TIAA Bank Field.
Jaguars starting quarterback Blake Bortles led a 15-play, 79-yard touchdown drive during the game's opening possession, connecting on 6-of-9 passes for 53 passing yards. The fifth-year quarterback capped the opening drive with a two-yard scramble for a touchdown. Bortles' top weapon on the drive, wide receiver Dede Westbrook, caught two passes for 28 receiving yards during the opening possession. The former Oklahoma standout finished the game with three catches for 32 receiving yards.
Running back Leonard Fournette helped guide the Jaguars' offense down the field during the team's first possession. He collected 24 rushing yards on five carries (4.8 YPC) during his only drive of the night. Following the opening possession, Fournette was replaced by T.J. Yeldon, who ran for 15 yards on four carries (3.75 YPC).
Backup quarterback Cody Kessler had a strong performance in his Jaguars debut. He completed 14-of-17 passes for 139 passing yards and a touchdown. Kessler led three scoring drives during three quarters of action and produced a quarterback rating of 120.3. Kessler's top target on the night was third-string running back Corey Grant, who caught three passes for 39 yards.
Kicker Josh Lambo was perfect on the night, finding success on two field goal attempts and two extra point attempts.
On defense, undrafted rookie linebacker Andrew Motuapuaka was the Jaguars' biggest standout. Motuapuaka produced four tackles and a sack during the game against the Saints.
New Orleans backup quarterback Tom Savage played the majority of the first half. He completed 12-of-16 passes for 91 passing yards. Savage was aided by running back Mark Ingram, who ran for 23 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven carries. The Saints' top receiver was rookie Tre'Quan Smith, who caught four passes for 48 receiving yards.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles' night has to be considered a success. The fifth-year quarterback led a masterful touchdown-scoring drive without his starting left guard and right tackle. Bortles completed 6-of-9 passes for 53 yards and added a two-yard rushing touchdown during the Jaguars' 15-play, 79-yard opening drive.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Kessler connected with tight end Scott Orndoff for a seven-yard touchdown completion during the third quarter against the Saints. The score and a follow-up extra point increased the Jaguars' lead to 10 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
STAT OF THE GAME
Kessler led three scoring drives against the Saints. He has yet to throw an interception during team drills in training camp or the preseason.
Several Jaguars players were held out of the preseason opener but only a handful had previously reported injuries. Defensive ends Calais Campbell (calf) and Dante Fowler (shoulder, PUP), first-round defensive lineman Taven Bryan (abdominal), linebacker Brooks Ellis (concussion), wide receiver DeAndre Smelter (concussion) and defensive tackle Eli Ankou (knee) all missed practices during the week leading up to the exhibition game.
Joining the injured players on the sideline were safety Don Carey (personal reasons), offensive tackle Will Richardson (shoulder), wide receiver Keelan Cole (foot) and defensive end Dawuane Smoot (ankle). Left guard Andrew Norwell felt some calf tightness during warmups and was held out of the game.
Linebacker Blair Brown left the game in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and didn't return. He is now in the league's concussion protocol.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.