Whatever Maurice Jones-Drew and Justin Blackmon were doing Friday night during their continued holdout from Jaguars' training camp, they missed a pretty good show. Yes, without the franchise running back and first-round draft pick in uniform, the first-team offense actually functioned at a respectable level during the Jaguars' annual scrimmage at EverBank Field before an estimated crowd of 15,000. Starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Jones-Drew's temporary replacement, Rashad Jennings, stole the show, which is an encouraging sign after a first week of training camp plagued by offensive inconsistency. Gabbert was 10 of 13 for 91 yards and one touchdown. Then in red-zone situations later in the scrimmage, the offense scored five consecutive touchdowns with Gabbert at the helm.
While the Jaguars are maintaining a hard line on not giving Maurice Jones-Drew more money with two years left on his contract, they're watching a hard lesson unfold in that regard as receiver Mike Thomas struggled as much as anyone going into Friday night's scrimmage. Thomas, a 2009 fourth-round draft pick, was given an $18 million contract extension last October with $9 million guaranteed, despite having two years remaining on his original deal. He had career-low numbers in catches (44), yards (415) and TDs (one) last season. Unless Thomas turns things around, he's threatening to go down as the team's most questionable investment on a second contract in franchise history. In hindsight, general manager Gene Smith has to be shaking his head about that decision.
The Jaguars’ running game could be in good hands with Rashad Jennings. With Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout opening the door to the starting job, Jennings looked as if he’s ready to step into it. In the team’s annual intrasquad scrimmage, he caught three passes from Blaine Gabbert for 37 yards and ran four times for 20 yards. Jennings also returned a kickoff 18 yards.
A GOOD NIGHT Mike Mularkey liked a lot about what he saw Friday. In a scrimmage won by the offense – or "Teal" team – by a score of 31-19 over the defense (White) at EverBank Field Friday night, that score mattered far less than what got accomplished by a Jaguars team that ended its first week of 2012 Training Camp this week. What got accomplished was the offense found a rhythm.