Gardner Minshew II’s first day at the office didn’t exactly go as planned.
Instead of being there with the rest of the veterans for the true start of the team’s training camp, he was stuck at home, quarantined and placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list after being in close contact with Jaguars receiver Michael Walker, who Minshew says failed the test.
“It was brutal. Yesterday it was like the first day of school,” Minshew said when addressing the media today. “I had my outfit picked out and everything. I had to stay at home and that sucks. I missed out on playing with all of my friends.”
But don’t worry, he’s fine.
“I did not contract the virus. It took one look at me and ran the other way. (laughter) That was probably in its best interest. So, here we are, back on Tuesday.”
Minshew says there was a lesson to be learned through the process of being in quarantine, and it demonstrates how fragile everything could be, even being around someone for too long can land you a couple of days out of work.
“What happened is that we (Minshew and Walker) both had the antibodies staying in Naples,” Minshew explained when asked about the coincidence of he and Walker being placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list at the same time.
“We probably got it down there at the same time and had no symptoms or whatever. I think he failed a test, but I don’t think he has it again. But since he failed it, and I was around him, then I had to sit out too. Just shows the fragility of this whole thing and how fickle this thing could be.”
While they used to be roommates, Minshew, Walker and safety Andrew Wingard have since parted ways, perhaps for the best. Walker remains the only one out of the three on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of this post.
Back on Tuesday, now Minshew is ready to roll, learning a new offense and building on his stellar rookie season in 2019. While he did not win any Rookie of the Year accolades, Minshew won the NFL’s Pepsi Rookie of the Week several seven times, completing 285 out of 470 of his passes for for 3271 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Minshew was also the winningness rookie quarterback last year with six victories on the year. Through all the accolades, he isn’t worried about that, however, only saying that he and his teammates are “self motivated.”
“We have our own goals. We don’t need anybody else to tell us what to do or what we’re not going to do. I believe that we believe in each other and we are going to bring it each day to be the best we can be.”
The Jaguars, and all 32 teams, were not able to hold routine OTAs nor minicamps during the offseason, instead the learning was all done virtually, the field work - all on their own. Minshew and several Jaguars wide receivers got together over the past several months to work on routes, throwing, timing, speed and everything in order to stay on target as a unit.
“It was really good to be around those guys, spend some time, just go at the same pace, see how they like things and them see how I like things. We got a lot of new faces, we got of guys coming back who have really put the work in and got a lot better. I think, as a group, we’re all very excited to work with each other.”
Two of the new faces include second-round selection WR Laviska Shenault and fifth-round selection WR Collin Johnson. Both players are expected to play key roles in the Jaguars’ offense this year, and both players impressed Minshew in their workouts.
“Laviska Shenault Jr. is a freak, man. I knew it when we played him at Colorado. I was glad he wasn’t super healthy that game because he changes the game when he has the ball in his hands. He’s really impressed me. He’s a lot better route runner, a lot better at catching the ball than I even expected so I’m really excited for what he’s going to be.”
Shenault was vying to be one of the nation’s top receivers, and potentially a top-10 pick, however injuries derailed his junior season which led to him falling to the second round.
“Collin Johnson, really big guy, doesn’t move like he’s a big guy, he moves really well, smooth and catches the ball really well. Both those guys, they love ball, they love learning, they’re excited to be here so I’m excited to work with them.”
Minshew will have plenty of opportunity to work 6-foot-6 Johnson and Shenault as the team inches closer to real on-field activity and into the season. In the meantime, he’s ready to get started.
“I am just really trying to show up to camp ready to run this offense and help everybody else along.”