Saturday night football- the term sounds weird coming from an NFL perspective, but since the lights were on at Everbank field, and the Jaguars were kicking off the team's annual scrimmage, "Saturday night football" sounds good to me.
As we inch closer to the start of "real football", more and more hype has been created at the Jacksonville Jaguars practice fields, and on Saturday night we finally got to see the team in action. And while some Jags shined in the practice game (where quarterbacks couldn't be touched and there was no play clock), some players failed to rise to the occasion. Here, I'll go over who impressed me during the scrimmage and who.. well.. have some work to do.
Players Who Shined
Blake Bortles- Yes, just the name you wanted to see. After the offense got off to a slow start, Blake Bortles really seemed to take control of the offense, as coach Gus Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell have said multiple times throughout training camp. Bortles connected on 9 out of 15 throws and tossed for 3 TDs on several drives during the game, Bortles looked sharp and threw the ball very accurately, including on a 25-yard touchdown pass, where he placed the ball out of cornerback Davon House's reach for Allen Robinson to dive and catch for the score.
Telvin Smith- After his rookie campaign last year, where he recorded 99 tackles, Telvin Smith showed off his speed and knack for finding the ball throughout the night. On the first play of the game, for example, running back Denard Robinson was handed the ball but in an instant was stopped behind the line by Smith, along with defensive end Jared Odrick. Smith continued to show that he can find the ball, wherever it's at, and get there fast.
TJ Yeldon- The 2nd round pick in this year's draft impressed me throughout the night. Here or there it looked like he made some rookie mistakes, like on a play where QB Chad Henne was supposed to hand Yeldon the ball to the right, but TJ took to the left, causing confusion and the play was called dead. However, amid the small mistakes, Yeldon showed off his speed and elusiveness throughout the scrimmage and found ways to get into open space. He hurt his finger after a TD run, however the injury is only a sprain and he is questionable for Monday's practice.
Players Who Failed to Impress
Luke Joeckel- Just the name you didn't want to see (even though you probably didn't want to see any names here), but yes, Luke Joeckel made this list. At the start of the scrimmage, Joeckel lost several matchups on the line against Jared Odrick. Throughout the night, the offensive line continued to improve, but Joeckel continued to lose in his matchups and didn't show much strength in his blocks.
Toby Gerhart- With the arrival of TJ Yeldon in the backfield, Toby Gerhart has seen his role diminish from potential "bell cow" RB to more of a 3rd down/H-back. Gerhart saw snaps with the 1st and 2nd-team offenses, and when he was handed the ball, he struggled to break through the offensive and defensive lines. It looked like he was averaging about 2 or so yards per carry, however he did manage to score on a goal-line carry near the end of the scrimmage.
Davon House- Brought in from Green Bay to be a starter at corner back and to bring veteran experience to a young secondary, Davon House has shown his skill during training camp. However, he didn't perform at a high enough level during the game that he should have. He seemed to be off the ball on several plays where his receiver was targeted, and although at some points he showed his speed, he didn't get to the ball fast enough on plays where the offense was gaining field. On a positive note, he did break up a pass later in the game during a 2 minute drill. House didn't play terribly, but considering the buzz that's come from training camp and the money he is being paid to start at CB, he failed to impress me during the scrimmage.
So all in all, there were some players that shined during Saturday night's scrimmage, but their were several players who have some work to do. Granted, it was just a practice scrimmage game, and there's still over a month for players to fix things for the regular season. And let me tell you, September 13th can't come any sooner.