After months of contending with a lockout and the potential of having no football in 2011, the Jacksonville Jaguars finally took to the practice facilities at Everbank for the first time only days removed from the end of dispute.
The players arrived on the field in shorts and shirts. No helmets for the first practice, which wound up looking more like a spirited walk through than an actual training camp session. It was not quite as structured as the normal practice sessions, probably because things are still very fluid with the roster.
The sky was blue and the heat was on as temperatures crept up and over the 90 degree mark with the accompanying humidity welcoming the team. The crowd was light for the event, but that could have been caused by the lack of promotion of this practice being open to the public up until yesterday when the schedule was released. They were already setting up for the big kickoff tonight, so the crowd expected will be significantly bigger than the one we had for the morning session.
There was not a lot of action at the practice, so the report is going to be light on details for this particular session.
Some notables from the morning practice:
- Josh Scobee and Brian Saunders were the first guys on the field (thanks, Su'!)
- MJD spent the practice working with the training staff, riding the bike and going through stretching routines.
- Aaron Kampmann also spent the session with the training staff. He looked good out there running sprints and doing other agility drills. No noticeable limp.
- Potroast looked huge, and did not participate in drills spending the entire practice working with trainers on what must be his annual diet regimen to start training camp.
- D'Anthony Smith was on the field participating in drills. He showed no signs of struggling with the Achilles injury, but this was a pretty light session, so he was not pushing too hard.
- Luke McCown looked healthy participating in all drills during the light morning workout. His knee was braced, but nothing too severe or obstructive.
- Tiquan Underwood was sporting a flattop that was reminiscent of the '80s. He measures in at 6'1", but with the hair he has to be 6'6".
- Chuck Norris wannabe, Derrick Harvey, was apparently keeping his new moves under wraps for the AM practice, probably because the crowd was pretty light. Maybe his new dabbling in the Ninja arts will elevate him from working with the second and third teams eventually.
- Vinnie Manuwai spent the practice session working with the training staff, pretty much following the same routine as Terrance Knighton.
The team worked on some individual unit drills, and some of the players did break off into even smaller groups. Cecil Shorts was immediately pulled into individual work with the coaching staff, working with the other receivers on technique depending on where he lined up. He passes the eye test, but we shall see how that translates once we start getting into real drills.
During drills, the quarterbacks looked okay. Garrard was clearly the sharpest of the bunch, but McCown was surprisingly crisp considering the fact that he is coming back from significant injury. He had nice velocity on his passes, and was fairly accurate with his delivery.
Scott Riddle is clearly a camp arm. He has an okay arm, but his accuracy is suspect.
The running back situation is going to be interesting to watch. Rashad Jennings looked good out there today in light repetitions. He showed nice acceleration, but he was still a litlte slow hitting the hole. Once he got in there, he did punch through pretty effectively.
Deji Karim looks to be picking up where he left off during camp last year. He has the nice cuts with very abrupt direction changes as well as great burst in acceleration. Like Jennings, he showed nice touch on receiving passes out of the backfield.
DuJuan Harris looks like a carbon copy of Karim on the field. He has a similar running style, and showed capable receiving skills out of the backfield.
With MarcedesLewis not on the field, Zach Miller took up the slack and looked okay. He bobbled a couple of passes, but also made quite a few grabs during practice that were notable.
In lieu of a tight end, the Jags did run a couple of plays where we had tackle eligible. Suffice to say, Kevin Haslam, who was playing in Manuwai'srole for most of practice, does not have the hands to be anything but a lineman. Luke McCown tried to hit him on a little fade route over the top. Haslam channeled his inner Matt Jones, trying to make a one handed grab. That really did not go well for him as the ball bounced off like it had hit a brick.
They ran a similar play later with Guy Whimper. He actually caught the ball.
Nate Hughes had the catch of the day going deep over the middle and hauling in a pass delivered up and over his head by Luke McCown. Hughes was able to haul the pass in and tack on additional yardage without breaking stride.
There really was not a lot to report on from the first practice beyond mentioning a few of the new faces and those returning. The drills were light, but up tempo. The vibe was more laid back than past camps, which could be due to the fact that it was the first practice session and they are still trying to iron out all of the kinks. Even the stretching routine was less structured.
If reports are correct, fans should get a treat this evening with the possibility of having their first round draft pick participating. That would be a great way to kick off the official start of training camp, especially if they can get all of their draft picks signed, sealed, and delivered by the end of the day today.
It will be interesting to see how the team works out the players who are injured or coming back from injury? One has to wonder how long Vinnie Manuwai will be on the sideline? The same questions surround Knighton and Kampmann. Will they be participating this evening, or playing spectator? We shall see.
No matter what, it is good to have the lockout behind us, and it is great to have football back!