The first practice of the Jaguars 2018 training camp has come and gone. Let's jump right into five things that you should takeaway from the first practice.
1. Blake Bortles was the star of the show.
Yep, that's right. Blake Bortles practiced very, very well. Since Bortles arrival in Jacksonville practices have been . . . well, mostly ugly for BB5. But this year things have been noticeably different throughout OTAs and minicamp. Bortles is showing command of the offense - he's owning it. He not only knows what he's supposed to do, but what everyone on his side of the ball is supposed to do. It should come as no surprise that Bortles looks improved. For the first time in his career he's been given the chance to work with the same offensive coordinator for two straight seasons. He's also not dealing with a nagging wrist injury this season, or any of the added preparation and work that comes along with playing through an injury. He's comfortable, confident, and looks to be in control. The intensity will ratchet up on both sides of the ball as training camp progresses, but to this point in 2018 Bortles has truly looked the part.
2. Leon Jacobs got the first shot at the starting strong side linebacker spot.
Many, including myself, expected the starting strong side (or SAM) linebacker job to be Blair Brown's to lose. Brown was a fifth round pick by the Jaguars in 2017 and played well when called upon as a rookie. His frame and skill set fits more in line with that of a weak side (or WILL) linebacker. But with the experience he gained during his rookie year and his athleticism it seemed like Blair Brown was a shoe in to win the starting SAM linebacker job.
Not so fast!
The Jaguars selected Leon Jacobs in the seventh round of the 2018 draft out of Wisconsin. In college Jacobs played the SAM spot and performed at a high level. His size and skill set are more prototypical for the position. At 6'1'' tall and 245 lbs., with a chiseled physique, Jacobs should be able to hold up at the point of attack - a requirement for the strong side linebacker position. He was praised by Todd Wash during offseason work and was apparently able to digest instruction and make adjustments on the fly. As things stand now it appears that Jacobs has the inside track on the starting job at SAM linebacker.
3. The Jaguars receiving corp was up to the task.
Blake Bortles was impressive on the day, so too were his receivers. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was a high volume target for Bortles and came down with one of the highlight catches of the day.
Marqise Lee caught everything thrown to him as did Dede Westbrook. DJ Chark was able to make a big time contested catch down the sideline later in practice on a well thrown ball from backup QB Cody Kessler. The crowing jewel on an impressive day for the passing game was a Donte Moncrief catch deep down the field on a Blake Bortles pass into triple coverage. The pass and the catch were both perfect, even if it was a risky decision by Bortles. While this was, without a doubt, a positive day for the Jaguars receivers it should be taken for what it is: an unpadded practice early in training camp in which the Jaguars alpha dog at corner, Jalen Ramsey, was not participating. Still, it's a solid step in the right direction for an unproven receiving group.
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