The Jacksonville Jaguars hit the practice field today for their first training camp practice open to the public. I attended the practice, which ended about 20 minutes early due to heavy rain, and was sure to take some notes of how the team performed.
I’m going to focus on a specific position group every day, and considering the story-line that is Blake Bortles, my main focus was on the quarterback group, with some tid-bits on the entire team as well.
Blake Bortles had an up and down day
Obviously, everyone has their eyes on Jaguars starting quarterback Blake Bortles after his disappointing 2016 season. Fans have high hopes that Bortles will turn things around in 2017, but, although he had some nice throws throughout practice today, Bortles certainly has some work to do.
First off, Bortles throwing motion looks improved. His shoulder didn’t dip much, if at all, while going through his throwing motion, and his release looked much tighter than it did during the 2016 season. However, Bortles’ ball velocity looks slower than it did last year. This makes sense: Bortles refined throwing motion isn’t his natural motion, so the ball isn’t coming out as powerful as it did with his natural motion. This is something he needs to, and hopefully will, improve on naturally going forward.
While his motion was “prettier” in general, Bortles still had some placement and accuracy issues. He noticeably missed on several routes outside:
Bortles overthrows Robinson outside. Ivory RB1, Lewis and Rivera two tight end set pic.twitter.com/4zE7in3rCa— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) July 27, 2017
Bortles also overthrew several corner routes in particular, the most memorable being to tight end Ben Koyack on the second field, where the ball went out of bounds.
This next pass, although it ended in a completion, was a poor pass from Bortles to wide receiver Allen Hurns:
Nice catch from Hurns, diving for a ball he shouldn't have needed to dive for... Bortles at QB. pic.twitter.com/yksl8wBOHF— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) July 27, 2017
Bortles was able to complete several passes like this one to tight end Marcedes Lewis later in team drills, but this is a dink-and-dunk play design where Hurns was open in the short middle of the field — He shouldn’t have had to have dived for the ball, but Bortles just threw a bad pass.
While Bortles had some nice passes, including on an outside streak to Marqise Lee during team drills and this pass to Arrelious Benn...
Blake puts the ball low and away for Benn to come down with pic.twitter.com/BpuALm1Wj4— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) July 27, 2017
...I’d be misleading you if I told you Bortles had a good day. He was up and down all practice and has some stuff to work on going forward, specifically ball velocity and placement. Bortles left practice early due to dehydration, but returned after about 10 minutes of receiving fluids.
Brandon Allen looked better than Bortles
While he didn’t look like a superstar by any means, backup quarterback Brandon Allen had a better day than Bortles. He mainly played with the two’s and three’s, but his accuracy and throwing power impressed me on some throws and during some drills.
Now, this was only the first open practice, so don’t take this too literally, but Allen looked more comfortable throwing the ball than Bortles did. Whether that’s due to Bortles’ re-worked mechanics or other factors, I’m not sure, but Allen definitely had himself a solid day.
Chad Henne is still... Chad Henne
Chad Henne didn’t do anything memorable in practice, which is okay. The team knows and values Henne for what he is as a backup and mentor, so he doesn’t need to “wow” anyone during practice.
He did, however, scramble twice in team drills, both for gains of at least five yards. On a roll-out play later on, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue made an athletic pass breakup while pressuring Henne.
- The Florida heat and dehydration was an issue out on the practice fields today. After an elongated water break at about 12:15, Blake Bortles didn’t return to the field with the team as he was receiving fluids for dehydration. He returned about ten minutes after the team took the field. According to Mike DiRocco of ESPN, linebacker Telvin Smith and nose tackle Abry Jones left the field to cool off during practice as well.
- Wide receivers Marqise Lee and Arrelious Benn were both injured during practice today. Both players had a hard time getting off the ground after getting knocked over during team drills. There’s no word yet on what the injuries are or the extent of them.
- Running back and 2017 first overall pick Leonard Fournette mainly worked with the second team today, with Chris Ivory receiving the majority of first team snaps. Fournette worked on catching the ball out of the backfield a lot during drills, and while he had a drop or two, he looked impressive when receiving the ball and turning up field:
- The pass rush, led by Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, and Calais Campbell, put a nice amount of pressure on the quarterback during practice. Granted, the team was in helmets only and contact was limited, but quarterbacks weren’t getting much time to throw and there were several plays that would have ended in sacks during a live game.
- 2017 second round pick, left tackle Cam Robinson, played with the second team all day today. The first team offensive line was Branden Albert at left tackle, Tyler Shatley at left guard, Brandon Linder at center, A.J. Cann at RIGHT guard, and Jermey Parnell at right tackle.
Play of the day
Bortles could have led Robinson a little bit more on this, but this was a nice fade pass to Allen Robinson on the outside. Robinson displayed his elite vertical ability in going up to make this catch:
Be sure to follow my Twitter handle @zach_goodall for Jaguars training camp coverage tomorrow morning and next week!