It wasn’t as hot as a typical summer day in Jacksonville would be, but the Jaguars’ practice on Tuesday was filled with excitement, hitting and plenty of energy as the team got into full pads for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer.
Shortly prior to practice, Jaguars assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk led the team huddle with a very football-friendly speech, motivating the players to get their energy up in anticipation for the first day of pads.
Prior to that, the atmosphere on the practice fields was that of fun and excitement, with usual suspects such as defensive lineman Jihad Ward dancing on the sidelines warming up with the rest of his teammates.
All smiles for Jaguars DL Jihad Ward. Looks happy to be out here today in full pads: pic.twitter.com/YqNhvhZM3V— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) August 3, 2021
Once again, Meyer was seen interacting with players individually shortly prior to practice, including linebacker Damien Wilson. The player-friendly coach continues to build relationships with his players, building a culture around his identity.
With it being the first day in pads, there aren’t too many conclusions to draw just yet, Tuesday was a solid preview of the competition to come as the preseason moves forward.
We took a look at some of the key observations from Tuesday’s practice, including a bounce-back day from Trevor Lawrence.
Lawrence bounces back
While the headliner from Monday’s session was the up-and-down performance, Tuesday was a much different story, showcasing the rookie’s resilience and ability to bounce back from a shaky outing.
While Lawrence didn’t have an impressive start during the team’s 7-on-7 period, tossing an interception to linebacker Joe Schobert during the session, he would bounce back in a big way during the remainder of the team drills.
Lawrence connected with several receivers, including Marvin Jones Jr., Laviska Shenault and DJ Chark Jr. on the day. Lawrence’s toss to Jones was perhaps his most impressive of the day, fitting the ball in between three defenders, putting it only where Jones could snag the football.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell noted that training camp is when you want to see Lawrence make mistakes, learning and growing as a result.
“We want him to learn, we want him to grow and try to put him in the toughest situations possible and then be able to see how he reacts right there in the moment and then see how he is able to bounce back the next day as well,” Bevell said shortly following Tuesday’s practice.
“I like what he did. We still had another turnover today but we will continue to work on that.”
Bevell also would note that while the first five offensive installs for Lawrence appeared to go smoothly, he noticed a bit of lag with the most recent, sixth, install of camp, something that should work itself out as the preseason moves forward.
“The thing for the quarterback is when you are worried so much about what we’re doing on offense and you can’t put your focus on the other side —are you able to take that information in?
“There is that growing process still for young quarterbacks and even the older quarterbacks that we have as well. To be able to — you know I have this mastered on my side its mastered.”
As camp moves forward look for Lawrence to continue making strides as the team’s starting quarterback.
CJ Henderson returns in some capacity
Much has been made about the second-year cornerback’s absence, and with good reason. Henderson has not had any on-field live-football activity since the team’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers last season.
After being placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list on July 23, Henderson finally made an appearance onto the practice field, conditioning off to the side along with tight end James O’Shaughnessy while the rest of the team participated in drills.
During team activities, Henderson could be seen standing in the background taking mental notes, but not participating as he awaits his time to be taken off of the reserve/COVID-19 list.
James Robinson looks much faster; Etienne as advertised
Robinson came into the offseason and training camp with one goal in mind: to improve his speed. It appears as though, at least at first glance, that much has been done as Robinson looked markedly faster than last season during his rookie year.
Participating in team drills, Robinson was able to escape for a couple of runs, showing off his renewed burst and downfield speed. On one occasion, Robinson would burst through the right side of the team’s offensive playset, breaking free with what would have been perhaps the longest run of his career.
He also had several positive reps against linebackers in one-on-ones. While the drill is designed with the running backs in mind, Robinson was impressive.
Travis Etienne has begun to stack up impressive days as he was able to showcase his speed in full pads on Tuesday. Similar to Robinson, Etienne was able to take advantage of his quickness against the team’s linebackers in one-on-ones, virtually uncoverable.
The one-two punch of Robinson and Etienne should be something the team can rely on moving forward.
A battle in the trenches
With pads comes an ability for coaches, media and fans to see how the team’s offensive and defensive lines actually match up with each other. Today was no different as several battles took shape.
Last season, the Jaguars' run defense was one of the worst in the league, allowing just over 153 yards on the ground per game. With the addition of players such as Roy Robertson-Harris and Malcom Brown, it appears that might be improved, however.
During rushing drills early in practice, the defense took advantage of their inherent advantage and made several key stops. While the offense did break off a couple of runs outside, they were stuffed inside the majority of the repetitions.
After looking out of place on Monday without pads, defensive end/outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson made a comeback in a big way on Tuesday, winning his matchups against Cam Robinson with ease, using his speed to get around the big offensive tackle.
Chaisson would also have a nice matchup with rookie tackle Walker Little who gave Chaisson the most challenge on the day. The two would split reps, but Little got the better of him on this one in particular:
Other players who impressed on Tuesday included: Dawaune Smoot, Jay Tufele, Jawaan Taylor, Andrew Norwell, Josh Allen, Brandon Linder and Tyler Shatley.
It was only the first day in pads, and both sides of the football are certain to try to gain an advantage over the other throughout camp. While overall the team’s offensive line appeared to win the majority of the reps on Tuesday, don’t be surprised to see the defensive line bounce back, particularly on the interior.
Jaguars invite Dabo Swinney to camp
There have now been a couple of legendary college coaches, excluding Meyer, at camp this summer. Following an appearance by former Notre Dame and South Carolina head coach Lou Holtz last week, Meyer would bring in Clemson head caoch Dabo Swinney to speak with the team.
Of course, Swinney has plenty of ties to Jacksonville already, formerly the head coach of both Lawrence and Etienne, the team’s top draft picks this year.
Jacksonville has also brought in players to speak with its team in former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin.
- Taven Bryan was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list following practice on Tuesday. He has yet to practice with the team, originally placed on the team’s active/NFI list at the start of camp.
- The Jaguars hired two coaches and two scouts via fellowship programs in Martin Bayless (special teams) and Kiel McDonald (RBs) along with Aashon Larkins and Byron Archambault.
- Jamal Agnew, Cory Slaughter and Pharroh Cooper appear to be vying for the team’s punt-return job.