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Maintenance Day: Jaguars Friday training camp observations

With veterans taking the day off, the Jaguars gave several young players a chance to shine.

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

Today was a mild day of practice for the Jaguars, one in which coaches and onlookers could get a up-close look at the team’s younger players and expected backups.

Yesterday, head coach Doug Marrone indicated that multiple players would miss practice due to a general “maintenance day,” which ultimately included 18 total players, some with a lot of tenure, and some - like second-year defensive end Josh Allen -, who simply needed a rest.

Much of this is due to an extensive day of practice approaching. Tomorrow, the Jaguars will undergo their first scrimmage of training camp, an opportunity to see how their players stack up against each other in live tackling situations.

Until then, several young Jaguars got their moments to shine, able to take advantage of the veterans day off.

Collin Johnson finds his groove

The 6-foot-6 rookie wide receiver out of Texas took a little while to find his groove during training camp, but over the past two days he’s shown exactly why the team selected him. During receiver-cornerback one-on-ones today, Johnson shined working against multiple cornerbacks, including third-year CB Tre Herndon.

The fifth-round selection made multiple circus-like receptions during practice today, including an incredible one-handed grab across the middle of the field. It is too early to tell where Johnson fits on the Jaguars’ receiver depth chart, however, it’s clear he will be making the team.

Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II praised Johnson today shortly after practice when speaking to the media, saying first that the rookie has been “great.”

“First thing is just [he’s been] coming in and showing the willingness to learn,” said Minshew. “You know, it’s tough for all these rookies coming in without OTAs [organized team activities], but he’s done a really good job studying. And then like, physically, he’s a really big guy that moves well, he can drop his weight getting in and out of cuts. He’s made some big plays so far and I’m excited to work with him.”

Running back depth shouldn’t be an issue

The Jaguars are hurting at several position groups on the roster as far as depth. That includes cornerback, defensive line and tight end due to injuries, opt outs and otherwise. One position group the team may not have to worry too much about aside from receiver, is clearly the running back position.

In 2019, there was no confusion as to who would be the lead back, Leonard Fournette, there was, however, some confusion or concern for the backup position. The Jaguars selected RB Ryquell Armstead in the fifth round, however, throughout the year multiple running backs were brought in and out until they finally settled on a few.

In 2020, there will be no confusion on either side of the coin. It has been clear throughout the days at training camp that several running backs have begun to emerge on the depth chart, most recently, second-year player Devine Ozigbo. Sporting No. 33 this season, Ozigbo has shined in drills, making his cuts effortlessly, and finding plenty of room as a receiver out of the backfield.

With the Jaguars getting Armstead back and other players to round out the group, including veteran Chris Thompson, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden should have no issues rotating players in and out of the lineup as his offense dictates.

Cornerback Josiah Scott shines yet again

For the second straight day, fourth-round selection, cornerback Josiah Scott, held his own in practice, making a play on the football. The Jaguars drafted Scott with the idea of him becoming the team’s nickel cornerback perhaps down the line with DJ Hayden entering the final year of his contract.

While he’s in no way pressing for Hayden’s spot and playing time, he will be one to watch as we get further down the line. The Jaguars need the depth at corner and nickel back, and it appears Scott is set to provide that.

K’Lavon Chaisson working his way back

Rookies take time to develop, and Chaisson is no different. Working his way back from a slight hamstring pull, Chaisson had the look of a rookie today, but flashed plenty of times in the process. As a stand-up rusher in college, the Jaguars have been working Chaisson in a three-point stance more often than not, especially given the depth at the position.

For the second-straight day, Chaisson was getting early work in with defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich, working on the finer points of reading an offensive line, and learning how to come out of his stance with precision. It’ll be a work in progress, but the Jaguars are confident Chaisson will become part of a dynamic one-two punch with Allen.

Today during offensive line-defensive line one-on-ones, Chaisson had one rep that would typically make a fan-filled crowd ‘ooh-and-ah.’ Working against third-year OL Will Richardson, Chaisson made use of a vintage spin move to get around the left tackle, leaving him empty on the set.

While Richardson did get the best of the rookie first-round selection when he attempted a bull rush, it was an overall solid showing.

At one point in team activities Chaisson beat the left tackle with ease while standing up. The versatility he brings to the table will ultimately help the Jaguars, especially in nickel packages.

Keelan Cole could be team’s second-best receiver

We mentioned Cole in an extras note yesterday, but today he certainly deserves an entire passage. The fourth-year wide receiver has quietly become one of the team’s most reliable receivers through only a few weeks of training camp.

Cole has effortlessly beaten Jaguars cornerbacks with his route running and has routinely brought in tough grabs, illustrating why he had so much praise for his play prior to 2019.

In the above two clips. Cole beats veteran CB Tramaine Brock on deep routes. With perfectly thrown passes by Minshew, Cole hauled in the deep grabs with ease. On another play, Cole makes quick work of undrafted rookie CB Luq Barcoo, beating him on a simple dig route, making his way back to the quarterback and using his body to block Barcoo from making a play.

While the Jaguars will certainly have some tough decisions to make at the receiver position, for now, Cole is a lock to make the roster, and is in store for plenty of playing time during the season.