On Wednesday, the Jacksonville Jaguars took to the practice field for training camp day one of the Urban Meyer era. The new head coach was the first on the practice field this morning. It was a hot one, but a light summer breeze provided some much-needed relief.
The practice was high energy and seemed to have a bit more tempo than in years past. Still, it was just the first day of training camp. No shoulder pads and no real hitting. The only protective gear donned by the Jags on this day was helmets.
Still, it was an exciting look at what's to come in Duval.
We'll start with the quarterbacks because, well, duh.
Incumbent starter Gardner Minshew took snaps from Brandon Linder during drills early on in practice, while Trevor Lawrence worked with Tyler Shatley.
It should be noted that defenders in coverage were not often going for pass breakups and were not allowed to line up in press coverage, as instructed by the coaching staff. In one instance, Shaquill Griffin would have been able to break up or intercept a Gardner Minshew pass to the sideline, a ball that went down as a completion. Another quick note: the media who were to participate in the post-practice press conference were asked to leave the field to go to the interview area prior to the conclusion of the final team drill, so there may be a couple of pass attempts that I missed.
By my count, Minshew completed 17 of 21 attempts during the team portion of practice. Impressive, sure, but at least a couple of those completions would have gone down as incompletions or interceptions in a live setting. He connected with DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., and others. Overall, Minshew played alright, but he did have a couple of ugly throws deep down the field, including an inaccurate pass to DJ Chark into tight coverage. Minshew forced another pass over the middle that was easily broken up by the defense.
Lawrence connected on 12/16 attempts that I saw. While has was highly accurate with the football, the rookie did drop one snap out of the shotgun that had no business hitting the turf and had a miscommunication with a receiver that led to an errant pass out of bounds. Outside of those two instances, Lawrence was nearly perfect on the day. One of his incompletions was a drop by Pharoh Cooper. Another was a drop by DJ Chark on a short pass that had some heat on it.
The Jaguars might call this a QB competition for the time being, but even against a defense that wasn't giving full effort at the catch point, it's clear to see that Trevor Lawrence is the only choice. He's more accurate to all levels of the field and can make many throws that Gardner Minshew doesn't have the arm talent to even attempt. He also made better decisions with the football.
After practice, Meyer shared that Minshew and Lawrence "rotated today" with the ones, and CJ Beathard was behind them. Meyer said, "tomorrow will be a little different."
Overall, the receivers, specifically Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, and DJ Chark, played well. Outside of the one drop by Chark, the top three receivers caught everything thrown their way. Former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell caught everything and could make a case for the final roster if he continues to show strong hands and crisp routes. Collin Johnson wasn't targeted often, but I did see him haul in a short pass towards the sideline. Rookie sixth-round pick Jalen Camp stood out to me, catching a couple of passes and regularly creating separation. Receivers Phillip Dorsett, Tim Jones, and Pharoh Cooper all had one drop during team drills on the day.
Tim TEbow was targeted four times, catching three passes. The one incompletion was a "catchable" pass that was high and late from CJ Beathard, who had a forgettable performance. Tebow caught two passes down the seam and ran some impressive routes. He did bobble one of his catches in tight coverage. James O'Shaughnessy hauled in a nifty grab down the sideline, beating Daniel Thomas in single coverage. The tight end position is murky. Outside of Chris Manhertz being the lead blocking tight end, it's unclear how this group will shake out.
There's not too much we can say about the defense right now. Without pads, it's hard for them to stand out. The depth players on the defensive line did seem to take advantage of the offensive line in team drills.
Josh Lambo was perfect on the day, connecting on all of his field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder. His "competition," Aldrick Rosas, was placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list today, as were DT Taven Bryan and KR/WR Jamal Agnew. If this kicking competition is real, Josh Lambo should undoubtedly have a leg up.
Defensive coordinator Joe Cullen is full of energy and very, very loud. He used some colorful words when working with the defensive line. He made his way through to the different positional groups on the defensive side of the ball to provide insight and instruction.
Rookie safety Andre Cisco is built differently. His physique is something special ... and it's easy to see why he's so athletically gifted.
I'm not permitted to share specifics about the offensive game plan, but I'll say this: there were a couple of specific areas of the offensive game that have become more popular and highly effective in recent years that the Jaguars did not often employ under the previous regime. That will change.
Urban Meyer said the Jaguars are over 80% vaccinated for COVID-19.
Meyer shared that he received the vaccination.
The Jaguars built a new "rejuvenation" room for their players this offseason. Meyer said that it features "cryo, float tank, cocoon, and infrared" technology.
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