Folks, we’re getting close to the beginning of a new season in Duval. Training camp for the Jaguars opens up on July 27, and with it comes the fanfare and aura of a new beginning for Jacksonville.
Before the players hit the field, however, here are the top players and storylines to watch for in Jaguars training camp 2021:
I’m sure we’ve all heard of him. The Jaguars first draft pick and the potential franchise savior suits up for his first training camp of his NFL career. Despite offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, Lawrence will be a “full-go” for training camp on Tuesday. Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer said in June that Lawrence wasn’t ready for Week One yet, but “he’s probably advanced a little quicker than we would’ve thought, which is a positive.” This means he should be able to take on a larger workload at training camp and throw the ball more during these sessions. For a rookie quarterback, getting the reps in at NFL speed is crucial to their development. Lawrence will get the opportunity to get up to speed and show off his arm talent, which players have raved about.
The WR4 Competition
The Jaguars are probably going to spend a lot of time in “10” or “20” personnel, with no tight ends on the field on passing downs. With no credible receiving threat at tight end on the roster, the need for a fourth wideout to step up is crucial in passing situations. We know that DJ Chark, Marvin Jones, and LaViska Shenault are going to have three spots locked in on the field, but who will be the fourth guy? Will it be Collin Johnson, who had a strong second half of the season last year? Will it be promising rookie Jalen Camp, who has the athletic profile to be a breakout star? Could it be speedy free agent signing Phillip Dorsett? Or maybe it could be rookie RB/WR/football player Travis Etienne, who took snaps at wideout in rookie camp? It’ll be interesting to see who gets the first snaps as WR4 in these obvious passing situations.
On July 23, the Jaguars moved a few players onto the Physically Unable to Perform(PUP) and Non-Football Injury(NFI) list. Rookie safety Andre Cisco was not among those players, despite tearing his ACL in his final year of college. This makes Cisco an active player and if he’s healthy, he could be a key piece in a revamped Jaguars secondary. Cisco brings natural playmaking instincts and range to the safety position, something the Jaguars were lacking in the 2020 season. In order for Cisco to start however, he’ll have to fight off Jarrod Wilson, Rudy Ford and Daniel Thomas(who had a solid rookie year) to start on the back end. Cisco has the talent to be a key player in the secondary, if he’s healthy.
Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson’s continued development
There are only two players on the roster listed as a DE/LB: Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson. In new Defensive Coordinator Joe Cullen’s scheme, these two will be used in all three facets of the defense, including dropping into coverage. Although Allen is known as one of the best defensive players on the roster, Chaisson could be the potential gamechanger for this defense. Cullen and Lupoi have to continue to mold Allen and Chaisson into versatile pieces that can generate pressure and sacks for a defense that wasn’t very good at that last year.
Offensive Line improvement
The Jaguars did little to improve the offensive line unit in the offseason, just franchise tagging tackle Cam Robinson and drafting tackle Walker Little in the second round. Jaguars brass is hopeful that the line will improve with better play under center, just as the running game did this previous year. Offensive Line coach George Warhop noted during minicamp that both Robinson and right tackle Jawaan Taylor have “made strides” this offseason, but the pair have to be more consistent in pass protection in order for the Jaguars offense to take the next step. Center Brandon Linder is one of the best in the league when he’s healthy, and in an improved strength and conditioning program, he should be able to play 16 games for only the second time in his career. Andrew Norwell and AJ Cann had vastly improved years last year, especially in the run game, but their improvement has to continue. It will be interesting to see how the unit improves as a whole with a better QB behind them.
The Jaguars will take the field on Tuesday in hopes of improving on their 1-15 record last year. If these players or units have a standout training camp, fans could be in for a fun (and good) season.