It was another steamy day outside for the morning session of the Jacksonville Jaguars mini-camp. It wasn't as hot as yesterday however, but it was still hot. All but 5 players participated in this mornings session; Aaron Kampman, Greg Jones, Zach Miller, Austen Lane, and Jason Harmon. I'm not sure what the injuries to the rookie defensive end Austen and wide receiver Jason Harmon. I asked Ryan Robinson after practice, but he wasn't sure. I know Austen Lane fell awkwardly yesterday during some 11 x 11 drills, so it's likely just a tweek and he was held out as a precaution.
Click the jump for the full camp report.
Just like yesterday, the mini-camp for the most part was pretty uneventful. We all have to remember these mini-camps are more so to get players back in gear for NFL practices and acclimating the rookies do how practice is done in the NFL.
Today's practice was rather light compared to yesterday, as it was only about an hour and a half as opposed to the two plus hours yesterday afternoon. All three quarterbacks looked a lot more comfortable early on in practice, as it seems they knocked their rust off from yesterday, at least for the most part. Back up Luke McCown, who the Jaguars traded for last season, so far looks like he should be able to push David Garrard this off-season. As I mentioned yesterday, McCown spent much of last season learning the game plan and now has the time to actually learn the whole offense this season. So far, it looks like he's got a pretty good grasp of it. Undrafted rookie free agent Trevor Harris from Edinboro got to see some more action today as well, and he made the most of it. He showed some good touch on his deeper passes and a good enough arm to put some heat on the ball down the seam. The biggest problem he had today was being harassed by Garrard, McCown, and Koetter about not being vocal enough. When the offense was practicing hurry up offense drills, he had to be told to be louder and yell more, which sparked Garrard and McCown to make fun of him a bit after each go around.
One area of note was during the 11 x 11 drills was how much David Garrard seemed to struggle. He had two balls batted at the line of scrimmage, once by Derrick Harvey who had beaten Eben Britton off the edge, and the other by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton who just jumped up and hit the football. Coupled with those two knock downs, Garrard also was nearly intercepted by Derek Cox on a pass to tight end Ernest Wilford. He also forced a couple of passes to players who weren't really open, one to receiver Mike Sims-Walker who made a great catch falling down against Derek Cox who had tight coverage. Unlike yesterday, where Garrard was erratic early and settled down, today seemed to go quite the opposite for him. Like I said yesterday and I'll continue to say, it's way too early to make too much out of struggles, though.
This is a pivotal year for everybody, not just for myself. It’s a pivotal year for all of us and none more than it is for me. - David Garrard when talking to reporters after practice
Garrard was of course peppered with questions about added pressure this season and what Jack Del Rio said about him "not being an elite quarterback" earlier in the year when he appeared on the Jim Rome show.
I knew what he was doing. It didn’t make me hate him or dislike him. I did understand what he was saying. He was putting a challenge out there and that’s okay, I’m a man. You challenge me and I’m going to step up and do what I can to meet that challenge. That is how you have to be. If you get bent out of shape over it or huffing and puffing, are you trying to say you can’t step up to a challenge? That’s what I took it as, a challenge. I plan on doing the most with the challenge that has been presented to me, - Garrard said in response to a question about Del Rio's motives
Like I mentioned before, it looks like Luke McCown is going to push David Garrard this off-season, and that is something that's been sorely missed the past two off-seasons. Luke McCown once again looked very good today, hitting on quite a few deeper routes during the 11 x 11 drills. On on play in particular he dropped a pass down the middle of the field in the soft spot of the zone between 3 defenders to hit wide receiver Nate Hughes down the field.
Marcedes Lewis was seen taking, what I thought, was a big time leadership role while the tight ends were working on their blocking technique on the sideline early in practice. Lewis, who has become on of the best blockers in the NFL at the tight end position, was working with rookie Mike Caussin on the nuances of blocking. This is a big season for Lewis, as he was coming off his best season as a pro and as an alternate to the Pro-Bowl. Lewis was asked about his stepping up as a leader and being vocal about it after practice.
Honestly last year vocally I felt it was needed, just to get everybody on the same page. I think this year it’s more about going out there and doing it. I know I wouldn’t be able to follow a leader that was running his mouth all the time. So I’ll just try to go out there and lead by example. Everybody will see what great leadership is. I think we have a good core and group of guys that lead the right way. Everybody is following it.
A couple of offensive notes before I move on to the defense, there seems like a real competition brewing on the interior of the offensive line, and it will all hinge on how veteran offensive lineman Kynan Forney performs. Forney was picked up late last season and has been getting some work at left guard with the offensive line's first team. When Forney is in at left guard, center Brad Meester is totally out of the line up. It's been pretty even so far as far as the reps with the two interior lineman sets, so if Kynan Forney can show the Jaguars he's up to the task of starting on the left side, it's possible Brad Meester could be on his way out. The coaching staff is reportedly high on Cecil Newton and undrafted free agent center John Estes has seen a lot of work the past two sessions.
As far as the concern with the wide receivers, it's pretty clear to me that the starting "three" wide receivers are going to be Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas, and Troy Williamson. Williamson looked much better in practice today, as he looked more natural hauling in the football. I also noticed these three spent quite a bit of time with wide receivers coach Todd Monken off to the side during some drills.
Defensively again like yesterday, is really hard to pay much attention to. Safety Reggie Nelson was back working with the first team defense, lined up along side Gerald Alexander as the two starting safeties. Nelson looked like Nelson, looking decent on some plays and blowing others. Nelson got beat deep on a pass to Tiquan Underwood during some 11 x 11 drills. Two safeties to take note of however are two of the younger payers, Terrell Whitehead and Courtney Greene. Both looked good in coverage and Greene was able to break up a couple of passes during drills. My guess would have to be if the young guys continue to play as well as they have the past two days, veterans like Sean Considine and Anthony Smith should get a little worried.
Cornerback William Middleton saw some work with the first team, as it looked like Rashean Mathis was given some rest on some plays. For the most part Middleton performed well in Mathis' place. Second year Derek Cox continues to play like he did last season and looks impressive. I expect him to be better than he was last season.
As far as the linebackers, Kirk Morrison seems to fit right at home in the middle of the Jaguars defense. He was once again very vocal in barking out the plays and is quick to the football. Undrafted rookies Jacob Cutrera and Kyle Bosworth have been impressive, especially Bosworth off the blitz. He has a knack to get into the backfield, without any pads on mind you. I also noticed Kyle talking extensively with linebackers coach Mark Duffner while he was walking back to the locker room. Jacksonville has a habit of sticking with an undrafted linebacker or two, and my guess is it will be one of those two.
Tyson Alualu felt the first jeers from the fans today as he jumped off sides a couple of times during 11 x 11 drills, but there is no denying he is explosive off of the snap. Defensive end Derrick Harvey was constantly in the backfield off the snap, as was Jeremy Mincey. Mincey is kind of a camp enigma who's shown flashes of pass rush ability, but he always seems to stay hurt. As I mentioned before, Terrance Knight was able to bat a pass down at the line, and from watching him the last two days, any concerns of his weight should be gone. He's a big boy, mostly because of his backside, but he didn't look anymore out of shape than anyone else on the field.
Again I apologize for being so short with the defensive side of the football, but it's so hard to gauge anything when they do not have pads on. The offense just has an extreme advantage.
Check back later this afternoon for the afternoon session report, I've got to put on some more sunblock and head back down to the practice fields.