The Jaguars’ OTA sessions are coming to an end this week, and with OTA No. 8 in the books, the team is starting to come together, with the defense proving its worth on the gridiron earlier this afternoon.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Jaguars’ offense, and particularly rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, wasn’t as on-target as they were on multiple occasions this offseason. The mark of a good team will have a mixture of both the offense and defense succeeding on different days.
Well, today’s day was certainly with the defense as they came down with at least four interceptions between team drills and 7-on-7 work throughout the day.
The energy was apparent, and while head coach Urban Meyer doesn’t want to count wins and losses during a time when the team isn’t even in pads, today’s day would count as a “win” for the team’s defense by many spectators’ opinions. For Meyer, though, the team is more steady as it goes than anything else.
“We’ve got to really tone back and make sure the guys aren’t launching themselves after the ball and all that,” Meyer said following practice on Tuesday.
“So, no. It’s all about not losing the strength gains and speed gains they made in the offseason, installing an offense and then trying to actually—. This is not about winning or losing right now. At that time, it’s coming, but not now.”
The Jaguars are currently in the learning phase of their offseason. That means plenty of playbook installation is occurring, maintaining health and conditioning is an ongoing process. Still, it is important to see players making plays and executing what they’ve been taught on the gridiron and in the film room.
On Tuesday, the Jaguars’ secondary was on fire with an interception apiece for safeties Josh Jones and Daniel Thomas. Both players are currently competing for their spots on the 53-man roster. Free-agent signee Shaquill Griffin was also impressive on the day, breaking up a deep pass during the early portion of practice.
Meyer was asked specifically what stood out about the team’s secondary, and how the defense played on the day. He specifically singled out Jones and a couple of good plays he saw out of the fifth-year safety. Meyer would caution, however, that he still needs to watch the film afterward.
“I was talking about it on the way in. Offense looked good yesterday, today defense had the upper hand,” Meyer added. “But that happens and even when we’re not really live through the balls, it tells you they did a really good job.”
It’s a work in progress, but a part of the process of an NFL offseason.
While the team’s offense did struggle, there were several bright spots on the day. Gardner Minshew II returned this week and made his presence known, at least early during the team’s red zone work on Tuesday.
He would make two impressive touchdown tosses to Laviska Shenault and Travis Etienne, respectively. The team’s second-year receiver, Shenault, has been perhaps the most impressive receiver during the offseason, and Meyer has seen his progress firsthand.
“He’s one of our best playmakers on offense,” said Meyer. “He’s a guy that’s right, in the right position, at that age gap. I love who he is, I love the way he practices, he’s been there every day. He’s a great puzzle piece for us to have on offense, plus his attitude every day is fantastic.”
Shenault is expected to make a major impact this year, building on his already impressive resume from his rookie season. Last year, Shenault accounted for 58 receptions for 600 yards and five touchdowns over 14 games, starting 12. He added 18 rushes for 91 yards on the ground.
- Lawrence tightens hamstring
Though it didn’t impact how he threw the football, Lawrence suffered a slight, tight hamstring during practice on Tuesday, something that shouldn’t keep him out for very long, according to Meyer.
“He should be fine,” said Meyer. “Tomorrow is an off day and then we’re going to go Thursday, so he should be fine Thursday.”
During the practice, Lawrence was held out of several periods of football and was seen getting worked on by the team’s trainer.
- Josh Allen doesn’t participate but is perfectly fine
Allen was held out of practice on Tuesday due to a tight lower back but is expected to be fine moving forward, being held out for precautionary reasons.