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Pads at Last: Jaguars’ Monday practice observations and notes

The long-anticipated day of Jaguars padded practice returned to Duval today.

Jaguars training camp
Demetrius Harvey | Big Cat Country

The Jaguars were back in pads today, and while there are plenty of practices to go, today was the first day anyone really got a good look at the team’s offensive and defensive lines.

Players are restricted to 90 minutes in pads as the players continue to re-acclimate themselves after so many months away from the field and team due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I really like the way it’s going, as far as the buildup and the time,” Marrone said on Monday. “And I think it’s really helpful for our players as we get ourselves ready to go. The other thing that came out, obviously, the PA in the league [NFL Players Association] that they’re going to continue testing.

Players and staff are tested for COVID-19 everyday at the Jaguars’ facility. As of today, only three players remain on the list, running back Ryquell Armstead, offensive lineman Ryan Pope and rookie OL Tre’Your Wallace-Simms. The rest of the Jaguars have been cleared and there has yet to be another player added to the list since Aug. 2.

“I think from getting a feel for the players and the coaches, including myself, I think there’s a comfort level on that. And I think that was a good thing, it’s one that I think that we all embrace, and I haven’t heard any negative talk about that. When it comes to doing things to try to keep us all safe.”

After being placed on the team’s reserve/retired list yesterday, Marrone says he has offered Rodney Gunter a position on his staff, at least once he gets settled after learning about yesterday’s devastating news. Yesterday, Gunter revealed he has an enlarged aorta, which will force him to retire, at least for now.

“You know, we like him, we feel like he can help our football team, even though it’s not on the field, which was the number one thing. So hopefully after this very tough period calms down, I told him to get back in touch with me and he’ll be part of the staff in one way or another.”

For now, we continue with observations and some key notes from today:

Offense has ups and downs

The Jaguars defense got the better of the offense for much of the day on Monday. Whether it was dropped balls or simply not enough time in the pocket, mistakes were made at times. This doesn’t mean it’s time to worry, however.

The offense did get the better of the defense, at times, however. Later in practice DJ Chark Jr. came down with a fantastic catch on a deep ball from Gardner Minshew II with cornerback Tramaine Brock draped all over him in team drills. Chark has been the team’s offensive MVP thus far in camp.

The offensive struggles should be expected early, however. As offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said last week, there are plenty of guys in this offense for the first time.

“We have guys in this offense for the first time and we just have to be patient,” Gruden said last week. “We also have to demand a lot of these guys mentally. We can’t just go out in five formations and run twelve plays. We have to challenge the defense. We have to challenge our guys and make sure we get the necessary looks and variety of offense that we need.”

Leonard Fournette has explosive, steady day

Whether it was the “world tour” in an attempt to escape from the coronavirus in order to train, or simply another solid offseason for the Jaguars’ starting running back, Fournette looks the part. He has routinely looked sharp and decisive in his route-running and has picked up the pace in run blocking.

Last season, Fournette never received much credit for how important he was to the team’s pass-protection unit, and perhaps those times are beginning to change. On Monday, Fournette routinely stopped rushers in their tracks, including one against linebacker Joe Schobert, who also would have been credited with a sack earlier in the day.

The Jaguars have a ways to go, but Fournette is not the problem.

Rookie OL Ben Bartch has a day

We’ve highlighted Bartch before, and now seeing him in pads could confirm what we once thought: he doesn’t look like a division III player. Bartch held his own today on the offensive line as the team converts him from tackle to right guard.

In one-on-on repetitions against seventh-year defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, the rookie got the best of the veteran at least once. Although, it should be noted that Jernigan was thrown into the fire, in pads for the first time after officially signing with the team earlier today.

Offensive line, Defensive line one-on-ones were a treat

The offensive and defensive linemen got after it today for the first time while in pads. Including the note above regarding Barch, plenty of Jaguars players had showings.

The defensive MVP of training camp thus far, Josh Allen, looked impressive today, beating left tackle Will Richardson Jr. after performing a spin move. Without K’Lavon Chaisson and Yannick Ngakoue, Allen has been receiving many reps and has not appeared at first glance to be winded just yet.

Allen did mention, however, that he’s excited for Chaisson’s return, jokingly stating to reporters after practice, “I need a break. I’m trying to rotate a little bit.”

The battles between Allen and right tackle Jawaan Taylor were a treat today. Although they had limited one-on-one reps, the two that stood out were a perfect balance of what you’d want out of your second-year players.

Bonus: Cam Robinson is yet again illustrating the “night and day” portion of how he plays while he’s healthy versus how he plays while he’s injured. In addition to pancaking one of the team’s defensive linemen in team drills today, Robinson showed off his quick movement skills, making it difficult for DL Dawaune Smoot to gain ground against him one-on-one.

Notes:

TE Josh Oliver breaks his foot. Just prior to practice, Marrone informed reporters that the second-year tight end has broken a bone in his foot and will undergo surgery on it tomorrow. The injury occurred sometime during practice on a non-contact drill. Oliver looked as if he was gearing up for an impressive camp. Now, that will have to wait.
“He’s devastated, obviously, because it showed that he put a lot of work in, coming in,” said Marrone.

LB Quincy Williams undergoes core-muscle surgery. Williams, entering his second season, will be sidelined for a while after undergoing surgery to repair a core-muscle injury, Marrone said this morning. “Quincy [Williams] fortunately, the surgery went well on the core muscle, so he should be coming back here, training with the players and seeing where he’s at. I don’t have any roster decisions yet,” said Marrone.

“‘Are you going to do this with him, do that with him?’ We just wait to see what happens after surgery is over and then we look at where he is from a rehab standpoint and then those decisions are probably made later or when we get more information.”

Myles Jack has day off with illness. Jack was not on the practice field on Monday due to a non-COVID related illness, Marrone told reporters this morning. It is unclear when he will be returning.

K’Lavon Chaisson is close to returning. Marrone provided an updated on the team’s second-first-round selection, stating he should be returning at some point by the end of the week.

“He’s doing walk-throughs, doing a lot of stuff like that and obviously it’s just the on-field stuff. And we feel we’ll get a good indication tomorrow when we test him, and we feel like we’ll have him later in the week.”