I (devastatingly) was not able to fly up to Baltimore to watch the Jaguars joint practices with the Ravens on Monday (today) and Tuesday.
Fortunately they are plenty of fine folks covering the practices and a plethora of information provided by the two teams.
Let's take a look.
The Jaguars and Ravens joined in a moment of silence to reflect on the recent tragedies our country has been faced with. It appeared to be a heart-felt gesture by both squads that helped to put things in perspective about the game we all know and love: There are things that are much bigger than football.
The biggest storyline, however, for both teams was receiver play. The Jaguars' receivers, namely Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark, and Chris Conley had standout performances. They gave the Raven's cornerbacks the business in one-on-one drills.
In case you were wondering, the Jaguars' receiver that got open and then dropped the deep ball was Raphael Leonard. He's struggled to haul in passes over the last week.
The Jaguars did have a bit of a built-in excuse with why they struggled to cover the Raven's receivers. Starting cornerback AJ Bouye is still nursing a sore hamstring and isn't participating in practices. And DJ Hayden was excused from practice for personal reasons on Monday. When 2/3 of your starting cornerbacks are out, there's bound to be some drop off.
The Jaguars' quarterbacks were also a major storyline. Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew both threw interceptions. Minshew's came in the pick-six variety. He was trying to fit a pass into running back Devante Mays, but he found a man wearing purple instead.
Foles' lone interception wasn't so egregious. He was on the goal line practicing a two-point conversion situation and tried to fit a pass into a tight space.
“It was a two-point play, so the scenario right there was a two-point play," said Foles. "So, trying to get a ball in a tight window to make a play to get two points, so that was the scenario there. If it’s the red zone right there, you’ll probably pull it back and scramble around a little bit, but right there, trying to give our tight end a chance and they made a nice play and popped it up. But we were ultimately able to make a tackle or stop them right there, so no harm done. They can try to score and we always stop it, so that was a good teaching moment, but two-point play.”
Despite the interception on the two-point try, Foles excelled throughout much of the practice and found success on several red zone tries.
“I think we were just executing the play," Foles commented. We talk a lot about, ‘The only thing we have to worry about is this play, this call and just executing this,’ not thinking ahead. The red zone scenario, I thought our guys did a really nice job blocking everything up and our receivers did a great job running routes because everything happens faster down there, tighter windows, and they were covering our guys well but we were able to make some plays.”
That's been a theme throughout training camp. The Jaguars receiving corp as a whole has been exceeding expectations and Foles has excelled at putting passes in the right place.
Leonard Fournette's highly impressive training camp continued. His QB was asked about his performance and Foles offered this up:
“It was great (Fournette's practice). I thought we were able to move the ball around a little bit, a lot of different guys had catches. We were able to run the ball well, Leonard did a nice job. The guys up front made some nice holes for him to where he could get through the line. The touchdown run he had later in practice, I don’t think one guy touched him when they loaded the box, so hats off to the o-line and obviously he’s a talented runner.”
I've often said throughout this early portion of training camp that the offensive line has been better in run blocking situations than they have been in pass protection. It appears that they're penchant for creating lanes for Leonard Fournette continued in Baltimore. I'll be anxious to see how that plays out in the second joint practice on Tuesday and in the limited action the starters will see on Thursday.
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