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Chark Attack: Jaguars Thursday training camp observations

Another day of Jaguars training camp is in the books.

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Jaguars have continued on with training camp, with Thursday being the 8th day of media availability at training camp after a couple of weeks of conditioning and routine walkthroughs. Today’s practice featured a variety of intriguing looks as the team worked primarily through two-minute situations, red zone and goal line drills for much of the day.

Inching closer towards the regular season, and without any preseason available, the Jaguars will be holding closed scrimmages on Saturday and again on Tuesday of next week. These scrimmages will paint a better picture as to how prepared the team is against each other.

Today, rookie cornerback CJ Henderson missed practice with an illness that head coach Doug Marrone stated was not COVID-19 related. Meanwhile, four other players returned to practice, including linebacker Myles Jack, rookie OLB/DE K’Lavon Chaisson, running back Ryquell Armstead and rookie offensive lineman Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms.

Both Armstead and Wallace-Simms were activated off of the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list with only veteran OL Ryan Pope remaining on the list for now.

Third-year safety, Ronnie Harrison missed practice today as he is now in the team’s concussion protocol.

An eventful day took place, particularly on offense, however several defenders did get in to make some key plays.

DJ Chark Jr. stars yet again

It cannot be overstated how impressive Chark, a third-year wide receiver, has looked during the training camp this year. On at least three occasions second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II found Chark in the back of the end zone, with the receiver making dazzling catches one may only see out of a few receivers in today’s NFL.

On his first touchdown reception, Chark makes a play on veteran cornerback Tramaine Brock, able to use his hands to get separation at the top of his route, breaking into the corner of the end zone. Chark showed several times last season how impressive he is at creating separation, and today was no different.

On the second clip, Minshew was under heavy pressure and likely would have been sacked, however he finds Chark once again in the end zone, this time right near the front pylon.

A third touchdown reception by Chark may have been the receiver’s most impressive of training camp, however it was not videoed due to training camp rules. Chark stretched out, making a toe-tapping grab in the back of the end zone from another pass thrown by Minshew.

Not that it comes as much of a surprise, but Chark has clearly been the team’s best offensive player through the first few weeks of camp.

K’Lavon Chaisson returns

As stated earlier, Chaisson, the team’s second-first round selection this year, was back at practice, although he competing in limited situations, still recovering from a minor hamstring injury. Chaisson has been seen for the past several days working after practice with teammates Josh Allen, Leon Jacobs, Cassius Marsh and many others.

While he is slated to be used as a linebacker and as a defensive end for the Jaguars this year, shortly before practice began, Chaisson was working with the defensive line and coach Jason Rebrovich on his get off and three-point stance as a down lineman.

Chaisson was seen at least one time beating left tackle Cam Robinson off the edge in team drills today as he worked limited. It may take a while for the rookie to catch up as he has already missed a solid portion of camp thus far, but his return should prove favorable for the Jaguars who are missing several key defensive lineman up to this point.

Youth movement in secondary is noticeable

The Jaguars secondary this year is shaping out to be one of the youngest units on the team with cornerbacks DJ Hayden and Tramaine Brock as the only two players within the secondary to have more than five years in the NFL. There are currently eight rookies out of a total 16 players in the secondary, and that young movement was noticeable today.

With Harrison and Henderson out, younger players were forced to step up, including rookies safety Daniel Thomas and cornerbacks Josiah Scott, Luq Barcco and Chris Claybrooks. At one point in the day, all four of the team’s cornerbacks and safeties on the field were rookies.

The Jaguars will need to rely on young players this year, it’s the way they’ve built this year’s roster. Thus far, however, the team’s young secondary has held its own, and while they will certainly go through growing pains, should be able to take advantage of their opportunities.

One bright spot today was rookie cornerback Josiah Scott who held his own in team drills and came away from the day with an interception off of a deflected Mike Glennon throw.

Minshew has great day following slow start

While the team’s second-year quarterback got off to a slow start with a couple of high passes in team activities, he finished the day incredibly strong, throwing several touchdowns in red zone work. We charted Minshew as completing 12 out of 15 of his passes in team drills.

While he hasn’t worked through the middle of the field as effectively as you’d hope, his deep throws and out quick-release throws have been on target. Thus far in training camp, Minshew has thrown only two interceptions, one to second-year player Andrew Wingard on a deflection and one erroneous throw to linebacker Joe Schobert.

Minshew worked through several players today, finding rookie Laviska Shenault a few times, along with Chark, Dede Westbrook,

Collin Johnson shines, competitive WR room

The Jaguars and general manager Dave Caldwell will have their hands full come roster cut-down day as they look to shape their wide receivers room. At this point, there appears to be at least five receivers who are locks for the team: DJ Chark Jr., Laviska Shenault, Keelan Cole, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook.

If the Jaguars do intend to keep six, rookie Collin Johnson could be the one.

Several times throughout practice today, Johnson came down with fantastic grabs, including one back-shoulder catch on Claybrooks. At 6-foot-6, the rookie receiver will look to make his money in the red zone this season.

Minshew to TE James O’Shaughnessy connection lives on

Coming off of a torn ACL, O’Shaughnessy looks to regain his role as one of Minshew’s go-to targets. Today was no different as Minshew found the tight end at least twice for touchdowns. The tight end came down with at least three touchdown receptions on the day and overall looked sharp in the redzone.

“Fortunately, me and Minshew, I think the connection started in camp last year and a couple preseason games we had something going,” O’Shaughnessy said on Tuesday.

“And obviously when [former Jaguars QB] Nick [Foles] went down, Minshew came in and I think he had a connection with a lot of people. I don’t think people give him enough credit, that he just sped the ball around. I think he likes using his tight ends, but he has no problem throwing it to anybody else on the field that wins their routes.”

Extra notes:

  • Shenault works with punt return unit. While the team didn’t work too long on punt return today, three players: Shenault, Westbrook and running back Chris Thompson, each saw looks at punt return duties. This will be something to watch during the team’s scrimmages this weekend and next week, as we approach the regular season.
  • Safety Josh Jones has a chance at making the 53-man roster. With Harrison out, Jones fielded a lot of work today, and impressed in a few areas, especially in the run game.
  • Keelan Cole deserves more credit. Cole has not been mentioned enough during training camp, perhaps due to the so-so year he posted last year as the team’s reserve receiver, but he has impressed on all levels, looking close to the team’s second best receiver on the roster. The fourth-year receiver has come down with several sensational grabs and should be in line to make the most of his contract season.