When the Jaguars hit the practice field next week, there will be an entirely different atmosphere, the pads will be back. This year’s Jaguars team appears ready to showcase their skills, size, speed and strength once they’re no longer simply in “underwear.”
Phase two of training camp this year permits only helmets, not much more than some pants and a jersey, however the anticipation for pads really comes from how they look: strong, big, and ready to roll.
“Looking forward to August 17 with the pads, putting them on and then obviously September 5 is when we have to get down to 53 and trying to figure out who the 53 best players are that are going to help us win this year,” Marrone finished with his opening statement today.
While there’s still a ways to go, here are some observations from Thursday’s training camp practice:
The Joshes made good use of their offseason:
Second year players, Josh Allen and Josh Oliver have taken their second training camp by storm, and that much was made evident over the past two days as their overall playing shape stands out on the gridiron.
“I think what Josh did a good job of is really, in the offseason, of saying, ‘Okay, I realize all this stuff, I know what I want to do, I know where I want to be, I’m going to work there.’ And he really looks great, he really does,” Marrone said via virtual video call today.
Allen looks leaner, and that’s a good thing. He’s shed off any bad weight he may have had last season, and has continued to progress, looking more mobile and fluid than he ever has before. After notching 10.5 sacks last season, he remains a key member of the team’s defensive line.
Oliver, a third-round pick from a season ago, looks noticeably bigger this year. Last year, his training camp - and much of his season - was lost due to a severe hamstring injury, when he returned he injured his back, lost for the season completely.
Prior to the media being permitted to training camp, Marrone gave a hint as to how Oliver looks heading into this season.
“I think Josh is one of those guys when he walks in, you’re going to go ‘Whoa.’ He looks put together; he looks bigger,” said Marrone. “He’s stronger on the sled, stronger in the weight room. He looks explosive. He’s obviously healthy.”
He wasn’t kidding, Oliver has the size and build of a true NFL tight end this season
New faces along defensive line:
Judging from the past two days, the Jaguars defensive line will be nearly unidentifiable from the past few years. While a few key faces remain - Allen, Dawaune Smoot, Taven Bryan and Abry Jones -, many will be different, and much of that is due to injuries, and an overall revamp of the defensive line this year.
Several key members of last year’s defensive line are simply not present. That includes Calais Campbell, Dontavious Russell, Marcel Dareus and Yannick Ngakoue. While Ngakoue still has a chance at suiting up for the team this season, he has yet to report after being franchise tagged this offseason.
DaVon Hamilton stands out:
Selected in the third round of this year’s draft, rookie nose guard DaVon Hamilton has been one of the players to stand out over the past two days of camp. Not necessarily due to his skills, but due to his size. Listed at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, it’s clear to see why the team selected him as high as they did.
Shortly after practice, Jones, the team’s longest-tenured player, spoke highly of the rookie, noting that he’s loving his work ethic and it’s clear to see how strong he is.
“I think that’s one of the key pieces he’s going to need to play his nose guard position,” Jones said of Hamilton via a virtual video call with the media today. “Another thing I really like about him is his hand placement. Every time we do drills I let him know about where his hands need to be and he’s very teachable.
“He listens to ‘Rebs’ [Defensive Line Coach Jason Rebrovich]. He listens to me. He listens to any vet that’s trying to give him advice. I think he has a good head on his shoulders, and he knows what he can come in here and do.”
Cam Robinson is on a mission:
Earlier this week, Robinson spoke to members of the media and noted that he feels much healthier, ‘night and day’ from just one year ago. Coming off of a torn ACL, Robinson struggled to get healthy last season, and didn’t feel back to normal until around four or five weeks prior to the season ending.
Over the past two days of practice, it’s clear Robinson has no issues with his knee, able to practice and perform all drills needed. He has the look of a man on a mission, and could be in for the best season of his career.
While there aren’t any pads on as of yet, Robinson’s development is one of the reasons for the anticipation.
Laviska Shenault looks NFL-ready:
It’s tough to gauge from afar, but Shenault is clearly one of the team’s biggest receivers and has the build of a running back. That much was clear during Thursday’s session when four receivers: rookies Collin Johnson, Shenault and Josh Hammond and veteran receiver Dede Westbrook stood next to each other.
Again, the pads must go on to really get a feel for how the offense flows with Shenault involved, but as far as early impressions, the second round receiver passes all the tests.
“He’s an incredible athlete,” Marrone said of Shenault. “I mean, when you get a visual on him I don’t think you realize, until you actually see him up close, how big he is, how strong he is, how powerful he is. I think he can play multiple positions and it’s just a matter of ‘Let’s get him off to a great start,’ which he has. Catching the ball extremely well, he can run, he can get in and out of cuts. So, it’s going to be an exciting camp for that group.”
- Quincy Williams will miss time with a core-muscle injury, Marrone stated today. In his place will be linebacker Dakota Allen along with rookie linebacker Nate Evans who will move to the WILL (weak-side linebacker position).
- Defensive linemen Caraun Reid and Carl Davis joined the team after going through the COVID-19 protocol, which requires two negative test results in order to be in the building.
- Tramaine Brock is still going through the testing phase, and newly-signed defensive lineman Josh Mauro will be with the team tomorrow upon completion of testing phase.