The Jaguars took the field inside the friendly confines of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium tonight before a crowd of 12,109 eager fans wanting to get their first glimpse of the 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars in a scrimmage environment.
Most people came expecting to see a scrimmage similar to years past, but Jack Del Rio decided to shuffle things up a bit, changing the format from what had been done previously. Instead of a scrimmage, the fans were treated to the garden variety practice inside the stadium. There was no scoring, no real hitting, and a lot of fun for football fans.
The atmosphere inside the stadium was terrific. There was a new stadium announcer. Hopefully he is only a temporary patch as he is even worse than the regular guy.
It takes a lot to achieve that, but when the announcer actually refers to the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars as David Jerrard, you know that there might be a slight problem in the booth.
It only got better when Quentin Grooves got a sack during practice. Yes, Grooves.
Chad Nkang, Jeremy Mincey, Brad Meester, George Wrighster, Jerry Porter, Reggie Williams, and of course Derrick Harvey were non-participants in the evening “scrimmage” inside the stadium. Reggie Hayward came out looking to be ready to participate, but after stretching, he headed over to the bench and had an ice bag applied to his left hamstring and he stuck to the sideline for the remainder of the evening.
During practice, Anthony Cotrone suffered a knee injury (left knee) and had to be carried off the field by the training staff. The fact that he did not put any weight on the leg and was carried off after Mike Ryan did a stability test on the knee is probably not a good thing for the rookie fighting for a roster spot. We will wait to see what the team reports on his injury.
Now, let’s get to those drills. There was plenty of action during the “scrimmage” for the fans to enjoy. I will try to cover the play-by-play instead of just cutting to the highlights so that those of you that were unable to attend will get a feel for what went on during the practice.
11 x 11 (Part I):
The drills were split up into units. Each unit is headed up by a quarterback. The first grouping to take the field was lead by David Garrard.
The drill started with David Garrard having a pass batted down by John Henderson.
Fred Taylor ran off the left side behind Khalif Barnes. Daryl Smith stopped Taylor after a four yard gain.
David Garrard connected with John Broussard on a slant pass in front of Rashean Mathis. Mathis stopped Broussard for a four yard reception.
Since the offense did not convert, they were pulled and the second team came in.
On the first play from scrimmage, Maurice Jones-Drew carried the ball up the middle. Quentin Groves and Tony McDaniel wound up stopping Drew after a four yard gain.
Cleo Lemon connected with Matt Jones on a short sideline pass that went for three yards before Rashod Moulton forced the receiver out of bounds.
Lemon hit Montell Owens on the sideline, but Owens bumped into Greg Estandia and got knocked out of bounds short of the first down.
Since they failed to convert, the first team stepped back in to try again.
Fred Taylor was held to a two yard gain after running up the middle and getting caught by Rob Meier and Gerald Sensabaugh who came up to support the from the Strong Safety spot.
Garrard connected with Richard Angulo who was running a short out pattern. Scott Starks took the much bigger Angulo and forced him out of bounds after a three yard gain.
Garrard went to Troy Williamson on what appeared to be an out pattern at the marker. The only problem with that play was that Williamson was running a slant. When Troy went back to the sideline, it was clear from the hand gestures that Monken was using as he grilled the receiver that he ran the wrong route.
The second team took over again after the first team failed to convert. Cleo Lemon went deep down the sideline trying to hit D’Juan Woods on a go route. Woods had separation, but the pass was slightly overthrown and fell incomplete.
Lemon attempted to connect with Dennis Northcutt on a little curl route. The ball fell incomplete. However, there was a flag thrown for pass interference on the play.
Chauncey Washington took a run up the middle for a five yard game before Gerald Sensabaugh was able to step in and end the run.
Garrard returned again trying to move the offense. He connected with Troy Williamson on a nice sideline pass between Gerald Sensabaugh and Rashean Mathis, converting it for a first down.
Garrard then connected with Maurice Jones-Drew on what was one of the better plays of the night. Drew used the referee in the middle of the field to shield himself from the defender, and then turned the ball up field for a huge gain.
Garrard then tried to connect with Dennis Northcutt on a deep sideline route. On the play, Northcutt tried to do a little subtle bump to shake Gerald Sensabaugh, but it wound up drawing a flag for offensive pass interference.
Todd Bouman took over the offense and immediately threw an errant pass behind Chris Brown who was running a little slant pattern over the middle. The ball was thrown badly behind and short of the tight end, and fell incomplete.
Lavarus Giles had a nice run off the right guard, racking up seven yards, and showing some nice physical running.
Bouman hit Montell Owens on a nice little hitch route. Daryl Smith was able to bring Owens down, but not before he had converted a first down.
Special Teams (Field Goals):
Josh Scobee was perfect on the night. During the field goal drills, he nailed kicks from 30, 34, 41, and 30 yards again.
7 x 7:
Garrard hit Richard Angulo on a little dump off that went for a nice gain.
He then came back and tried another short pass to Maurice Jones-Drew that was stuffed for a short gain by Daryl Smith.
Garrard hit Marcedes Lewis over the middle for a five yard gain that was stopped by Mike Peterson.
Cleo Lemon hit John Broussard deep down the sideline with Drayton Florence in coverage. Florence forced Broussard out of bounds, but not before they receiver had a big gain.
Todd Bouman hit Greg Estandia on a crossing route. Jamaal Fudge threw a shoulder to stop the play after a solid gain.
Fred Taylor took a Bouman dump off for a three yard gain.
David Garrard connected with Mike Walker on a curl route in front of Michael Grant. Walker was able to peel out of the curl and get a nice gain after the catch before Grant put two hands on him, ending the play. On the play, Troy Williamson was streaking down the sideline wide open on the other side of the field.
Cleo Lemon went deep again, targeting Lavarus Giles. He overthrew the running back who had gotten behind the defense and was open.
David Garrard hit Dennis Northcutt on a deep post route that went for a big gain before Gerald Sensabaugh stepped in to bring it to an end.
Cleo Lemon went over the middle to Maurice Jones-Drew but the play was shortened when Daryl Smith stepped in and ended it prematurely.
Garrard attempted to go deep down the sideline to John Broussard. However, Broussard and Drayton Florence got tangled up and the ball fell incomplete.
Garrard then went to Greg Estandia on a seam route that went for a short gain before Brian Iwuh stopped the tight end.
Todd Bouman finished the session by hitting Richard Angulo in the seam for a short gain.
11 x 11 (2 minute drill):
Garrard hit Maurice Jones-Drew on a crossing route that went for six yards before Daryl Smith ended the play.
Garrard missed Matt Jones on an out pattern that would have been close to a first down. The ball was thrown short and behind Matt. He was able to get a hand on it, but he was not able to hang on. It would have been a great catch if he had pulled the ball in, but it was not meant to be.
David put a pass on the money on a quick cross by Marcedes Lewis. The play wound up being just a four yard reception because he was in traffic at the time.
Garrard then hit Maurice Jones-Drew on a quick out that went for a short gain before Mike Peterson pushed him out of bounds.
David then hit Mike Walker on a crossing route for a decent gain. Walker made a great diving catch on the play. If the quarterback was not wearing his red jersey, he would have been planted by Mike Peterson on the play.
Garrard came back and hit Dennis Northcutt on a big gain with Brian Williams in coverage on a crossing route. The reception set up a field goal for Josh Scobee, who nailed the 50 yarder with plenty of leg to spare.
Cleo Lemon hit John Broussard on a deep post pattern right in the hands. Broussard was unable to hold on to the pass as Brian Witherspoon was on him as soon as the ball got there, and he made enough contact to break the receiver’s concentration.
Lemon tried to force a pass to Greg Estandia. He was forced to rush his pass because Scott Starks and Clint Ingram were coming hard on the blitz, and because of that, the pass was off target and fell incomplete.
Lemon came back and hit Clyde Edwards over the middle. Edwards made a nice diving catch on the play.
Lemon tried to dump off a little slant pass to Greg Jones. However, Jones did what has become a vintage move for Fred Taylor in this situation, looking up field before he actually had the ball under control. It bounced off of his hands and wound up being incomplete.
Lemon went to Charles Davis on the next play on a sideline route, but overthrew the big tight end and the ball fell incomplete.
Lemon hit Greg Jones for a short gain before being driven out of bounds by Isaiah Gardner, stopping the clock.
He then hit Charles Davis on another out that wound up being forced out of bounds by Clint Ingram, stopping the clock again.
With time running out on the drill, Josh Scobee was called in to try a field goal. He nailed it with plenty of leg to spare on a FIFTY SEVEN YARD FIELD GOAL. The ball would have cleared from 65 easily.
11 x 11 (Red Zone):
Fred Taylor pushed one up the middle for four yards before being stopped by Brian Williams. On the next play, he ran the same route, and got stuffed by Williams again at the line of scrimmage.
Garrard went to the air and hit Fred Taylor right in the belly on a deep sideline pass at the goal line. However, Taylor could not hold on to the ball as he and Daryl Smith were bumping at the line and the ball bounced out.
Maurice Jones-Drew bounced a run outside to the right side and converted a first down after getting around the corner on the defense.
Drew tried to go up the middle on the next play, but he was stuffed at the line by Paul Spicer. On the next play, he tried again and got stuffed again by Spicer.
David Garrard hit Dennis Northcutt on the hands at the goal line. Northcutt made a diving attempt and had to come out of the end zone to try to make the play. However, it bounced off of his hands. On the play, Matt Jones and Marcedes Lewis were both on the outside. They were probably the more preferable targets, but Garrard has developed a tendency to lock in on Northcutt.
David’s drive ended when Paul Spicer came into the backfield after making a nice move on Pashos to get to the quarterback for a sack.
Montell Owens ran one off the right side behind the guard and managed a three yard gain.
Todd Bouman connected with Richard Angulo for a sixteen yard play over the middle.
Bouman then pitched a little swing pass to Montell Owens who made one nice move and took the ball into the end zone.
They attempted a two point conversion, but John Broussard could not hang on to the pass as Michael Grant had him covered like a blanket.
Cleo Lemon hit Charles Davis over the middle for an eight yard gain that was stopped by Justin Durant.
Chauncey Washington ran won up the middle, but was stuffed for a one yard loss by Brent Hawkins.
Washington came back and ran behind the right guard for a solid gain that converted a first down.
Lemon then hit Ryan Hoag on a post route for a touchdown. Hoag was wide open as nobody picked him up coming off the line.
On the PAT, Chauncey Washington was stuffed at the line by Michael Grant.
David Garrard hit Dennis Northcutt on an out pattern that went for nine yards.
He then hit Mike Walker on a curl route that converted a first down in front of Rashean Mathis.
Fred Taylor took one behind the right guard but was stuffed at the line.
Garrard then hit Taylor on a little hitch route and Fred kicked in the burners and converted a first down and went for fifteen yards on the play.
Garrard missed on a little dump off to Maurice Jones-Drew, putting the ball short and behind the intended target.
Matt Jones had one of the better plays of the night. He ran a little fade route to the sideline in the end zone. Garrard put the pass up over the left shoulder of Drayton Florence who had Jones covered perfectly. Jones went up and snatched the pass from over Florence for a touchdown.
Todd Bouman tried to hit John Broussard on a slant, but the ball was behind him and fell incomplete.
Bouman was then sacked by Quentin Groves, who had a great night.
He then came back and hit Chauncey Washington on a little hitch route that went for a decent gain before being forced out of bounds by Pierson Prioleau.
He then tried to hit Broussard again on a slant, but Rashod Moulton dove in and knocked the ball away. Unfortunately, he might have gotten there a touch early, and as a result drew a pass interference flag for good measure.
The final play of the practice session was a thing of beauty as Chauncey Washington took one behind the right guard, got into the secondary, and then laid a stiff arm on Jamaal Fudge that flattened him. Washington showed great speed and obvious power as he ran over the safety on his way to the end zone.
The injury to Anthony Cotrone looked bad. It would not surprise me in the least to hear that he sustained an ACL injury and is done for the year. It is a shame because he was one of those underdog players that you want to see succeed. He had an uphill battle ahead of him to make the roster, but he was doing everything he could to make that happen.
The defense is clearly going to be blitzing early and often, and from any possible direction. The speed of the defense is the first thing that you really take notice of as you watch them flying around out there. The thing that is interesting is that you rarely see them over-pursuing a play despite their speed. They are going to find a way to get to the quarterback if they have to throw the kitchen sink at him.
The offense did not have a lot of highlight plays tonight. The few that were worth noting were the Jones-Drew play, the Matt Jones touchdown, and the Washington score. Garrard is looking sharp, but he is going with the low risk passes almost exclusively. I know that Dirk Koetter has said that they are working with David to take more risks in order to get more verticality out of the offense, but he still prefers to go with the more comfortable outlets. There is nothing really wrong with that, but with all of the added speed that the team has brought in to compete for roster spots, David needs to at least attempt to stretch the field. His deep passes have been floating, but with practice, he should be able to get beyond that.