The first practice of Jaguars 2019 training camp has come and gone. Before practice head coach Doug Marrone met with the media and cleared some things up. He made a point to share that the team would be building up from practice to practice to a point where they're at full go after several practices. Marrone said the reasoning for that isn't that they're cautious, but it is for player safety. Over the first 10 or so practices, the focus will be on installing the playbook and making sure it sticks in the players' minds.
Marrone also shed some light on some of the injury designations. RyQuell Armstead was initially listed on the active/PUP list, but he's good to go and has been removed from the PUP list. As for Jake Ryan, he's listed on the active/NFI list because he suffered a set back over the summer away from the team's facility. The Jaguars' HC expects both Cam Robinson and Marqise Lee to return to practice at some time during training camp and said both are doing well in their respective recoveries.
Now for the practice.
I'm going to go through what I saw position by position, as to keep things organized here.
We'll start with the QBs.
Nick Foles looked sharp for the most part. I can't overstate how nice it is to see a starting QB that throws the football like a starting QB. He seemingly always has the right velocity on the ball and is deadly accurate in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Foles went 17/22 during teams drills and 10/12 during 11-on-11. He was mostly sharp but did throw a couple of head-scratchers (as he's been known to do). On one play he went deep for Chris Conley who was tightly covered by Tre Herdon, who almost pick the pass off. It was a poorly thrown ball and probably not the best decision. On another play, Foles targeted DJ Chark across the middle, but multiple defenders tightly covered Chark, and the pass arrived low and behind the intended target.
Gardner Minshew took all of the second-team reps at QB and looked pretty sharp, especially as the practice went on. His first two passes of team drills sailed on him a bit, but after that, he tightened up. Later on, there was one clear miscommunication with Terrelle Pryor on a pass down the sideline. Other than that Minshew delivered the ball on time and accurately for the remainder of practice. It was an encouraging start for the rookie.
Tanner Lee took the third team reps, while Alex McGough took the fourth string reps. Lee looked okay. He didn't do a whole lot to make me think he's improved from his disappointing first year in the NFL. McGough, on the other hand, made some dazzling plays with his arm and his legs. He wasn't perfect by any means, but when McGough gets out of the pocket on the run, he feels dangerous. And he has a rifle for an arm. I wouldn't be surprised to see McGough jump Lee on the depth chart in fast order.
On the whole, I came away rather impressed with the running backs. I'd be remiss, however, if I failed to mention that the physical part of the game isn't there in these types of practices. There's no real hitting yet, so it's hard to get a real feel for how the RBs are doing. Having said that, Leonard Fournette looked as athletic as ever. And more importantly, he seemed decisive with his cuts.
The most impressive runner not wearing 27 was Thomas Rawls. His burst, quickness, and lateral movement traits are off the charts. If he stays healthy throughout training camp, I have a hard time seeing him not on the roster.
Alfred Blue was taller and leaner than I expected. He's not the most agile runner in the world, but he had a nice pep in his step.
RyQyell Armstead had a solid outing and proved he could catch the ball out of the backfield, hauling in all three of his targets. He could be in line to be the second running back on the depth chart for the Jaguars.
Benny Cunningham also had a noticeable burst but wasn't quite as flashy as Rawls.
Taj McGowan flashed several times on runs when he got up to full speed. I doubt he'll make the roster in year one, but the UCF product could be a candidate for the practice squad.
The receivers had an up and down day. DJ Chark and Marcus Simms both dropped passes early on in individual drills. Chris Conley dropped an easy ball from Nick Foles on a short come back and was visibly frustrated after the miscue. But other than that the receivers did well. Dede Westbrook is clearly the cream of the crop. Terrelle Pryor may have been the second most impressive receiver on the day. I'm expecting to see some more from DJ Chark, Keelan Cole, and Chris Conley in the coming practices.
The tight ends made very few mistakes on the day. Rookie Josh Oliver got reps with the ones, twos, and threes. I'd expect him to compete with Geoff Swaim for the most snaps at the position in 2019. But James O'Shaugnnesy was solid as ever. Charles Jones made several grabs on the day.
It's difficult to tell how the offensive line is doing in these light contact practices. But one important note is that Josh Wells started out as the starter at right tackle, while Cedrick Ogbuehi handled the left side of the line. Later on in practice, Jawaan Taylor took some first-team reps at right tackle. I would expect his reps with the first team to see a steady increase throughout training camp.
It was a light day of work for some of the Jaguars' most important defensive lineman. I did not see Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, or Josh Allen participate in any team drills. In their place, Taven Bryan, Eli Ankou, and Dawuane Smoot started alongside Calais Campbell. Josh Allen did not work in team drills, so we'll look for some clarification on his status moving forward.
The Jaguars were understaffed at the linebacker position today. Myles Jack was out with an illness, and Jake Ryan is still on the NFI list. Najee Goode, Leon Jacobs, and Quincy Williams ran with the first team to start team work. Later on, Jacobs was replaced by Ramik Wilson, for a short period, in the starting lineup.
All five of the Jaguars' starters — Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye, Jarrod Wilson, Ronnie Harrison, and DJ Hayden — were active in team drills. Their play was solid, but lacked a certain intensity. I expect them to ramp it up as training camp progresses. Some of the backups, Tre Herndon specifically, made some plays throughout the day.
There's no news to report on from the Josh Lambo and Logan Cooke front. Both players are in line to continue starting for the Jaguars at kicker and punter respectively. Several players took reps at kick return including Taj McGowan, Michael Walker, and Tre McBride.
The practice was reasonably high energy for the first go-round of training camp. So much so that the coaches let the team skip conditioning and the end of practice, much to the delight of Calais Campbell, who jubilantly celebrated the news.
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