It’s still not padded practice, but it’s close.
Today the Jacksonville Jaguars entered the next phase of their training camp before the turn to pads in the coming days. While players still donned shorts, jerseys and only a helmet, today was the first day the team came together for 7 on 7 and 11 on 11 drills.
While it should be cautioned that practice remains still just, practice, the Jaguars were back in their natural habitat, and it seems as though progress is being made. That’s a good thing.
A little housekeeping: Newly signed Jaguars defensive lineman Josh Mauro and cornerback Tramaine Brock were at practice today after clearing the team’s COVID-19 protocol, while James O’Shaughnessy practiced on a limited basis as part of his return to play from a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2019.
It was clear the Jaguars wanted to test their team today as the majority of practice today featured the aforementioned 7 on 7 drills, along with some full-team activities. While there is only so much still you can glean from a pad-less practice, here are some observations from Friday:
CJ Henderson looks the part:
The team’s ninth-overall selection looked almost like a seasoned vet today, able to get in and out of breaks with ease, and made a few “wow” plays you would normally see from someone who’s been in the league for several years. Henderson was probably one of the players of the day.
On one play Henderson matched up one-on-one with wide receiver Chris Conley. As the ball snapped, Henderson immediately threw Conley off balance and out of his intended route. By the time the ball got there, the veteran receiver had no shot, Henderson stuck to him like glue.
Earlier this week, Henderson drew praise from one of the team’s oldest players in nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden:
“I like C.J. [Henderson] a lot. I actually saw him do a couple of breaks today. You can tell the way somebody moves and how they come out of their breaks, whether they have something or not. C.J. [Henderson], yeah he definitely has some amazing talent,” Hayden said on Monday.
Henderson is set to replace veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye after the latter was traded for a fourth-round selection to the Denver Broncos earlier this offseason.
“He breaks fast. Out of his breaks, he’s boom, boom, like a little cat or something.’ He’s nice,” Hayden added.
Laviska Shenault Jr. will be utilized, heavily:
If one thing was made clear today it might have stemmed from the team’s use of Shenault, the Jaguars’ rookie second-round selection. Over the past couple of days, it’s been obvious just how big of a receiver Shenault is. Listed at 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, the rookie wideout can be used in a variety of ways, and the Jaguars aren’t afraid to simply get the ball in his hands.
A man of few words, Shenault met with the media shortly after practice today, offering some insight into how he feels his first NFL experience is going.
“I mean, we all know at this level, you’ve got to work for that spot. And we all know it don’t come easy. And of course, I want the No. 1 spot, I highly doubt anyone wouldn’t want the No. 1 spot,” Shenault said earlier today via video conference.
“But of course, still though, learning from others, you never want to stop doing that. So, I’m definitely ears open and I’m listening to my receivers because they’ve played 17 years and the vets in the room that have years under their belt. So I’m always listening and they’re always helping out.”
Shenault has a golden opportunity in front of him. Not only to learn from a Pro Bowl receiver in DJ Chark Jr., but also from one of the greatest receivers in NFL history in Keenan McCardell, his wide receivers coach. Thus far, Shenault has been a sponge, he says, explaining some of the tips he’s received and taken in from McCardell.
“Just being a [smarter] route runner and, you know, just paying more attention to detail and just doing those little things right because it’ll help you in the long run.”
On working with Gardner Minshew II, Shenault confessed it’ll take some time to get used to and gel with a quarterback, but they’re slowly building it. A connection that the team likely hopes will last for a very long time.
“It’s been fun, he brings the energy and he’s always looking to help out. He just makes sure everything is going the right way and just making sure that I’m doing thing. Because he sees the future that I have and we’re trying to get it rocking.”
While accolades and awards are a given for Shenault, he says of his expectation for this season, his most important goal of 2020 is simple: “just gaining respect from Duval County and my teammates.”
Minshew posts a fine outing:
At training camp practices, all eyes are constantly on the quarterback. As the most important position on the team, it makes sense. Minshew posted a solid outing today, and while there was one interception by second-year safety Andrew Wingard on an under-thrown football, the good easily outweighed the bad.
Early on in practice, Minshew had probably two of the most on-target deep passes a Jaguars quarterback has had in quite some time. The arm strength training was evident as he wasn’t afraid to unleash the deep ball, and his release didn’t appear to be exaggerated.
There were two deep passes that stood out today. On the first throw, Minshew hit fourth-year receiver Dede Westbrook in stride down the middle of the Jaguars’ defense:
On the second throw, easily the play-of-the-day for the Jaguars and Minshew, the second-year quarterback threw a beauty of a deep ball down the left sideline, hitting Chark in stride, a perfect pitch and catch:
Josh Lambo is still automatic:
Perhaps lost in the hysteria of training camp is the Jaguars’ special teams unit. Perhaps, due to the fact that it’s probably the most consistent unit on the team.
Kicker Josh Lambo continued to impress today, posting a perfect 7/7 on his field goals during practice, including a 45-yarder right down the center. Lambo didn’t earn a Pro Bowl nod last season, however, he did connect on 33 out of 34 (97.06) of his field goals, and could be on his way to surpass Josh Scobee as the best kicker in Jaguars history.
- The team’s tight end group has impressed with their size and speed. The trio of Tyler Eifert, Josh Oliver and rookie tight end Tyler Davis had a solid showing, typically it’s when the pads come on, however, when a clearer picture can be gathered.
- Jarrod Wilson shares a special message about the safety measures that are necessary during the coronavirus pandemic. Wilson sported his mask during a virtual video conference with the local media today:
“We get tested daily so it’s mainly just staying safe and mask[ing] up at all times. I don’t have to wear my mask right now, but I just know wearing it promotes people to make sure that they have theirs on at all times.”