On a night where the Jacksonville Jaguars honored our military, and had many popular veterans from years gone by, and a day off on the horizon, it appeared the Jaguars were more focused on getting to the break than they were on having a sharp, productive practice on Tuesday night.
It started off as a sloppy session, and ended with the team running wind sprints. The combination of bad bookending the good stuff was certainly a trend that did not sit well with the coaches.
It would be one thing if the Jaguars were in the midst of a rigorous training camp, but this has been one of the lightest training camps in the past decade. Even the padded practices are fairly laid back by any standard, and the lack of hitting is even more expanded this year than in past seasons.
The usual suspects were held out of participating in the main drills. Terrence Knighton, Aaron Kampman, Maurice Jones Drew, and Derrick Cox were all excluded from the bulk of practice, focusing their efforts on working with the training staff. Marcedes Lewis was at practice in shorts and tee shirt playing observer along with all of the free agent signings. Finally, Eugene Monroe did not fully participate during the session.
The practice started off with the usual special teams routines, then turned toward the drills that matter. Let's get to them.
11 x 11 (Part 1):
It did not take long for the mistakes to start popping up. On the first passing play during the drill, David Garrard targeted Jason Hill on a deep slant. The pass was underthrown and intercepted by Chris Prosinski, who was the only player on the field anywhere near where the ball was delivered. Whether it was a misfire by Garrard, or a miscommunication with Hill, the play set the tone for the remainder of practice.
After attempting to run the ball up the middle with Brock Bolen twice, only to be stuffed twice by D'Anthony Smith in the process, Gabbert hit John Matthews on a deep sideline pass. Matthews had actually come across the entire field to make the the grab. Gabbert came back on the next play and added another reception for Greg Ellingson on a quick slant.
11 x 11 (Part 2):
After some quick individual drills, the team got back to the group activities. Most of this drill was working on the running game. It is difficult to get a good sense for how these backs are doing based on the fact that the line may stuff them, but they're released quickly and the backs continue to run through the traffic.
Rashad Jennings continues to be the top dog in camp and he is looking sharp out there.
Deji Harris, or is it DuJuan Karim. They are so difficult to distinguish from each other because they look alike on the field, and they are pretty much the same running back when they carry the ball . Both show good speed in getting to the corner on stretch plays and on wheel routes. Both cut with precision, but until we see them actually taking a hit, it is difficult to say how good they will be under the lights.
An interesting thing we watched away from the action was the group of players observing the drill. During the running drill, Clint Sessions walked away from the observers and looked to be setting up on each play, then going through his foot work and how he would react in each instance. You could tell the guy really wants to be on the field, and hopefully he will get a chance to get back in the swing of things on Thursday as advertised.
Zach Miller seems to have rediscovered those things on the ends of his arms that have best resembled bricks early in training camp. David Garrard zipped a pass into coverage and Miller caught it cleanly taking a quick slant for a nice gain.
Blaine put a ball in the hands of Tommy Gallarda on a slant, but David Jones made a nice play getting a hand in to knock the ball out before Gallarda could put it away.
Luke McCown was almost picked off by Rashean Mathis as he tried to hit Jamar Newsome on an out pattern. Mathis jumped the route and if he had better hands it would have been intercepted. It was not an easy play along the sideline, but a missed opportunity for sure.
With no pass rush to hurry him, David Garrard went to his checkdown, dumping off a little wheel route to Deji Karim. On the other side of the field, Tommy Gallarda had shed coverage and was wide open deep down the sideline. After the play, Dirk Koetter did come over and gesture to Garrard about that side of the field.
Blaine Gabbert hit Jamar Newsome on a deeper out route. When Newsome turned up field, he fumbled the ball but quickly recovered it himself as Kevin Rutland raced for the ball.
Jalil Johnson tipped a deep pass on a seam route intended for Jamar Newsome, but he did not haul it in. Terrell Whitehead cleaned up by taking the tip in and intercepting Gabbert's pass.
After a quick out that went for a marginal gain from McCown to Greg Jones, Garrard stepped in and attempted to go deep on a seam route intended for Mike Thomas. Unfortunately, the pass was thrown short of the target, and Don Carey had an easy interception.
11 x 11 (Part 3):
After completing unit drills, the 11x11 resumed. David Garrard hit Jason Hill on a crossing route that went for a nice 10 yard gain.
Garrard was forced to throw the ball away after being chased out of the pocket by Tyson Alualu. No receivers were open, and running was not an option, so David made the smart play in getting rid of the ball.
Deji Karim blew through the left side of the line and looked to be on his way to the end zone on a long run. David Jones was able to dive in and slap Karim's feet, causing him to trip up after a big gain, preventing him from posting a long touchdown.
Garrard hit Zach MIller on a dump off as Austen Lane was getting close to a sack. The pass went for a short gain, but Lane was coming hard. On the next play, Lane was able to plant Kevin Haslam and chase Garrard out of the pocket again. David went to his outlet, Rashad Jennings, who turned it into a short gain.
Garrard showed uncharacterist pocket presense with a pass rush breathing down his neck. Rather than breaking off immediately into a run, he stepped up in the pocket and the rush went right by him. None of the receivers was getting open, and the pocket was closing up, so Garrard eventually was forced to run it out, but not before trying to get the ball out through the air first.
After wisely throwing the ball away when the receivers were not getting open, Gabbert came back and hit Jarett Dillard on a deep slant for a decent gain. Dillard was well covered, and the pass was one of those that had to be put into a very tight window, and Gabbert delivered a strike.
Gabbert hit Cecil Shorts on a wheel route on the near sideline. The pass had to be delivered a little high because the pass rush was in his face, and Shorts had to go up and get the ball. He made a great hands-up effort to snag the pass and haul it in, then turn up field for a short gain.
Gabbert hit Gallarda on a little screen that the tight end turned around and converted it into a 20 yard gain.
Luke McCown went deep to Tiquan Underwood, who had a half step on Chris Prosinski on a deep post. The two players tangled up their feet, and Prosinski did go down, but Underwood was disrupted enough to not make the catch.
Prosinski came up lame on the play. It looked bad initially, but the training staff worked with him on the sideline, had him do some running, then bagged the right leg. It appeared to be a hamstring, and the way they were treating it, it looked more like a cramp initially than anything else. That will be interesting to monitor.
DuJuan Harris attempted to run the ball up the middle, but D'Anthony Smith and Andrew Lewis jammed him at the line and prevented any gain.
Richard Murphy continues to have a decent camp. On one running play he broke a big gain off the left side running through the gap and getting into the secondary for a long run. He showed nice speed and good burst as he hit the hole. He seems to make a few of these plays in every session.
After a couple of short completions, Garrard tried to go to Mike Thomas on a deep cross. David Jones was able to jump in and tip the pass and force an incompletion.
Gabbert hit John Matthews in the hands on a crossing route, but Matthews looked like he was fighting with the ball and punched it instead of catching the thing. With the undrafted rookies playing well in camp, and Nate Hughes already cut, Matthews needs to be careful not to play himself off the roster.
Gabbert went to Cecil Shorts on a little out route. The pass was thrown a little behind the receiver, but what has been the case throughout camp continued here. Anything thrown to Shorts where he can get a hand on it winds up being caught. He has had a few drops during practices, but more often than not, it's a catch, as was then case in this instance.
On consecutive plays, Garrard had receivers open downfield and he chose the short option. In the first instance, he went to Karim with Jason Hill open down the sideline. On the next play, he went to Brock Bolen and Cecil Shorts was downfield with no coverage waving back at his quarterback. It is possible these were designed checkdowns, but I doubt it.
Gabbert went after Jamar Newsome on a deep slant. The pass did not have a lot of zip on it, and Kevin Rutland jumped the route and almost intercepted the pass.
After a short completion to Kyle Miller, Gabbert went deep again to Jamar Newsome on a deep corner route. The pass was thrown perfectly over the top, and went right through the receivers hands falling incomplete.
11x11 (2 minute):
Kyle Bosworth stuffed Rashad Jennings as he was hitting the gap up the middle. Bosworth was able to stuff him at the line for no gain.
After a short pass to Zach Miller, and a short run by Deji Karim, Gabbert nailed Brock Bolen on a post route for a solid gain in tight coverage.
Odrick Ray came in and blew up a Luke McCown pass attempt to Brock Bolen, forcing the quarterback to adjust the trajectory on his pass and causing an incompletion.
After completing a short dump off to Richard Murphy, Gabbert missed Tommy Gallarda on a short cross, overthrowing the tight end.
Gabbert ran the ball up the middle on a designed keeper that went for a first down, then tried to stretch the field going to Kassim Osgood on a deep post. The ball was on target, but Osgood looked more like a defender slapping the pass down.
Gabbert went back to Osgood on another post, and the end result was the same: incomplete.
Gabbert ran out of time on the final play as his receivers struggled to shake coverage. He was able to scramble out of the backfield and convert a first down along the sideline, but the clock struck zero before he got out of bounds ending the drill and the practice.
At the end of practice, Del Rio had them lining up on the sideline running wind sprints before calling the practice.
It was a patriotic night with a lot of good and a lot of bad for the large crowd in attendance.
The preseason this year is going to be more pivotal than any we've seen in recent years for roster decisions. There are several key areas where the performance during the preseason will determine the starting roster. That means the preseason will be particularly entertaining for the fans.
It was good to see some of the former Jags out there on the sideline observing practice. Especially when Donovin Darius showed up with his kids in tow. The guy still looks like you could slap a helmet on him and throw him in the mix. At one point, he and Rashean were talking during practice, and Double D jokingly started punching Mathis in the back. He really locked in and watched practice like he really wanted to be out there.
Tony Boselli was limping around out there like Festus from Gunsmoke. He's a month removed from having hip #2 replaced, so just being upright and walking around without assistance is a pretty amazing thing for the Team Teal Commissioner. Marco Coleman was also out there watching practice and hanging out with Jeff Lageman.