The heat sucked, but I endured and spent a couple hours out at the first day of Jaguars mini-camp today. Not only was the weather hot, but so was the Jaguars defense.
Seriously, this defense is going to be good.
There weren't many negatives to the practice session, as there were no injuries and no players stood out for having a bad day. And, due to complaints as for how negative us at BCC have been in the past, I looked for as many positives in today's practice that I could.
So, who stood out at mini-camp today, and what does that mean for 2016?
The Jaguars biggest weakness in 2015 was their secondary, but the position group now looks to be one of the Jaguars strong points as we enter 2016. Tashaun Gipson was everything that the team and media bragged about during OTA's and more, bringing elite speed to the defense and always finding a way to be near the ball.
Having Gipson playing single high free safety allows strong safety Johnathan Cyprien to play box safety, and he looked very comfortable in the box. He didn't make many standout plays, but he made good angles and looked solid in run defense during team drills.
Prince Amukamara stood out at outside cornerback on the second team, as Davon House and Aaron Colvin took the first team reps. Amukamara had a great pass breakup near the sideline during 11 v. 11's off of one of Chad Henne's passes.
Undrafted free agent Jarrod Wilson had a sexy interception during 2nd/3rd team 7 v. 7's, making a diving catch in the middle of the field and getting up to return it another ten or so yards.
The secondary was very in-sync and quick, even without starting cornerback/1st round pick Jalen Ramsey today, so you can imagine how good the secondary will be when he returns.
Lee had a good day today following the raves he received during OTA's. He started off with a drop in offensive drills, but got rolling the very next play with a nice catch near the sideline and never looked back:
Lee looked completely healthy on the field and was as fast as ever, showcasing the attributes that were so attractive to Dave Caldwell and the Jaguars that led the team them to draft him with the 39th pick in the 2014 draft:
Lee looked best near the sideline throughout the day, and although he received first team reps at outside receiver due to Allen Robinson being limited, Lee will primarily play slot this season, where he can thrive from out routes and corner routes near the sideline.
We haven't had many reasons to be excited for him during his career due to his nagging injuries, but now is the time to get hyped for Marqise Lee.
Myles Jack at middle linebacker
I was intrigued by Jack's speed in his first practice with the entire team. He didn't see the field a ton during the team drills, but when he did he was playing middle linebacker on the second team.
While I think Jack is the MLB of the future for the Jaguars, I don't understand why he isn't getting much time at OTTO linebacker. As time goes on, I expect to see his reps increase with the first team at OTTO as well as see reps at MLB, but it was odd that he didn't get any at OTTO today.
However, when Jack was on the field, he made his presence known. He was the quickest player on the second team and was all over the field during 11 v. 11's -- constantly near the ball and wrapping up ball carriers. His speed is special and will be most beneficial for the Jaguars defense in the long run.
Jack fully participated in individual drills and further showcased his speed as well as power against tackling dummies. As he grows more comfortable and in-sync with the team, he will continue to make an impact on the field for this defense.
Negatives (Hint: There weren't many at all)
Like I said, there weren't many negatives from today's practice. There were no injuries or even dehydration problems from what I saw, even though the temperature was in the mid 90's. The entire team looked fast and in-tune on the field.
If we are going to really pick into the team for negatives, I would say that I was concerned with how the offense looked at the start of team drills. At the start of 11 v. 11's, there was a three-or-so play stretch where the offense just seemed shaky. However, quarterback Blake Bortles got the offense rolling after running back Chris Ivory broke free on an inside handoff with a nice cut move, followed by this nice connection between Bortles and tight end Marcedes Lewis:
Denard Robinson had a bad fumble during 7 v. 7's, where a defensive back knocked the ball out from behind after Robinson broke into the secondary. The team has said that Robinson needs to work on his ball security, and so far -- not so good.
All in all, the Jaguars looked very good as a team at mini-camp today, and this should be a small preview as for what's to come in the 2016 season. I'll be back out at mini-camp tomorrow to take more videos/pictures and collect more observations, so be sure to follow my Twitter account @zach_goodall to be kept up-to-date on Jaguars mini-camp.