Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert missed a chance to really show off during the annual scrimmage. On the first play of the scrimmage, the Jaguars ran their token deep pass to wide receiver Mike Thomas, but Gabbert threw the ball short and it was broken up incomplete. You could throw out the excuse that Gabbert hasn't worked a lot with these receivers and doesn't have their timing down, but the fact is the ball was underthrown. The night continued in that fashion somewhat for Gabbert, as he didn't shine but I wouldn't say he necessarily struggled, especially given the fact that he's a rookie going on just a weeks worth of work.
Stats wise in the scrimmage, Gabbert finished 12-of-27 for 76 yards and one touchdown. He was a victim however of four really bad drops.
"I thought he was pretty sharp. My first impression was he handles himself well. We did have some communication failure issues. We worked on that during the scrimmage," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters after practice. Del Rio wanted to see how the rookie responded to communication failure, and he was pleased with the results. "Three or four different times where he looked over, he was not getting the call. I had shut it off. I wanted to see how he handled himself. He handled himself with poise. He did a nice job. There were no real issues there. That was good for me to see."
While Gabbert missed on his first long pass of the night, he should have connected with a long pass down the seam that should have been completed for a big gain, and possibly a touchdown. Gabbert saw that undrafted rookie Jamar Newsome was coming open deep and threw a great pass in his direction, but for some reason Newsome seemed to slow down. "He saw the seam come open and he made the right read. He probably could make a better throw. We could have had a great catch there to make it a great throw, but I like the way he was thinking. He made the right read. He attacked that defense aggressively. There was an opportunity in the seam there and he jumped on it," Del Rio said about the incompletion.
One area of concern I noticed in the scrimmage was the lack of the wide receivers ability to get open. I know I've preached patience on the wide receiver position and rookie receiver Cecil Shorts was out, but it's beginning to become a bit of a concern for me. No one was really able to get that much separation for either quarterback, unless they were going against back end roster players. It also didn't help that there were a slew of drops by guys like Tiquan Underwood and Kassim Osgood, passes that would have picked up chunks of yardage.
On the defensive side of the football, the Jaguars were without starting cornerback Derek Cox who's been nursing a calf injury. Overall I thought the defense look pretty good, considering the amount of new players that were trotted out. The starting safety pair featured Courtney Greene at strong with Dawan Landry at free, and I'd expect this to be the opening day line up at the safety position. New linebackers Paul Posluszny and Clint Session each looked good and made a few stand out plays. Posluszny was able to get a hand on a pass from Blaine Gabbert and tip it into the air. Gabbert made the right read and saw the receiver coming open deep down the field, but just didn't put enough are on the ball and Posluszny lept and broke the pass up. Session on the other hand drilled one of the undrafted receivers as he made a catch, then instantly remembered it was just practice and helped the guy up. You can tell with Session, he just wants to hit people.
There was a scary point in the scrimmage when offensive lineman Kevin Haslam went down with what looked like a really bad knee injury. Head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters after the scrimmage that it was likely an MCL injury and it could be torn. A little while ago however, Haslam tweeted "Thank you everyone for the support... my knee will be fine, just have to rest." I hope all it needs is rest, because it sure looked like Haslam was in a lot of pain.
All in all it was a pretty mild scrimmage compared to years past, but with the lock out and rush into training camp, that's no surprise. I'll touch more on the wide receiver position in another article, but a week into camp it looks like it could be a major issue come the regular season to me.