It was a bit different today at the Jaguars’ first training camp practice under head coach Doug Pederson.
Though the obvious differences had to do with the team’s new faces on its coaching staff and roster, the team will be practicing for camp at a local high school’s field, Episcopal School of Jacksonville. That’s a temporary solution while the team works to complete its new training facility, the Miller Electric Center.
Still, training camp took off without a noticeable hitch, with players getting their first reps in with new teammates, coaches and observers throughout the day.
For head coach Doug Pederson, the move off-location does present some issues logistically, given the 11-hour timeline the team has to work with players every day, but he wasn’t overly concerned about the work the team will be able to, even with about a 10-minute commute from the stadium to the practice fields and back every day.
“We can get everything done over here,” Pederson indicated. “The only thing we have to be careful of is the weather, but that’s why we’re in the mornings and hopefully, the storms stay away in the morning time.”
In the event of inclement weather, the Jaguars will make a call early prior to practice whether or not they will stay on-site at TIAA Bank Field and practice in Daily’s Place, or if they’ll make their way down to the Episcopal site. In any event, not all training camp practices will be held outdoors, just the majority of them.
On the football side of things, over the first few days, the Jaguars’ players will be going through an “acclimation period,” to get their bodies prepared for the grueling days ahead and for the regular season.
“It’s an acclimation phase right now, so it’s much like OTAs where there’s not a lot of physical contact, but it’s an acclimation of getting back out there on the practice field and running around.
“The way that practices are scheduled from a time standpoint allows the players to build some tolerance in their bodies in the next couple of days before we put the pads on.”
Here are some observations from Monday’s practice:
1. James Robinson is nearly back
One of the biggest storylines exiting Day 1 of training camp in Jacksonville is that running back James Robinson was not a no-show at practice. The third-year back ruptured his Achilles tendon in a Week 14 loss to the New York Jets last year, and there wasn’t an expectation of him being ready for the regular season, let alone training camp.
Still, Robinson participated lightly off to the side at practice on Monday, with Doug Pederson indicating that no player, including Robinson, would be placed on the team’s PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
That means, Robinson will not likely miss the first four games of the regular season, and he’s on track to participate fully sometime in August, a good sign for the Jaguars’ backfield.
“James is doing extremely well,” Pederson said when asked about Robinson prior to practice on Monday. “He’s going to be out here and over here. We’re just going to still take it slow with him and make sure he’s 100 percent or better before we put him out on the field.”
Pederson stated that he doesn’t want to put a timetable on Robinson’s return, but the team is eyeing a mid-August arrival for the veteran RB. That’s when he ought to be able to participate in the more extensive portions of the camp.
“It’s a good sign. I know and I’ve seen how hard he’s worked to get himself back this spring and this summer.” Pederson added.
“He was here all summer working with the guys and with (Vice President of Player Health and Performance Jeff Ferguson) Fergie on the medical team. He’s done a great job of putting himself in the position to where we don’t have to do that but still be cautious with him and make sure he’s ready when he’s ready.”
Robinson’s likely return to start the regular season is a new development in Jacksonville, and bodes well for his insertion into the lineup at some point prior to the start of the year.
2. Trevor Lawrence looks crisp, embracing new challenges this year
There weren’t a lot of team drills on the first day of training camp. In fact, the first day was reminiscent of spring during Organized Team Activities and Mini Camp.
Still, Lawrence completed six out of nine of his passes with the majority of those passes on target. One pass thrown in the direction of veteran receiver Marvin Jones was dropped, as was another thrown in the direction of rookie running back Snoop Conner, though it would have been a tough snag.
Still, Lawrence appeared poised in and out of the pocket on Monday, able to make a terrific toss over two defenders to free-agent signee WR Christian Kirk. Kirk made a terrific, difficult catch and was able to keep both feet inbounds for the completion.
Following practice, Lawrence spoke about entering his second season, one that he was able to better prepare for without all of the hooplas that goes into preparing for the NFL Draft. One of the major differences to Lawrence has been understanding the NFL timeline a bit more.
“Really, I think from just being able to monitor my body and take care of myself and make sure that I’m prepared and having that timeline from last year, helps a lot,” Lawrence said following practice on Monday.
“You know, last year I really didn’t have any idea, and I was coming off surgery so it was just a weird year. So I feel great. My body feels really good. [My] shoulder feels great. I feel like I’m throwing [the football] the best time I have in a long time.”
Lawrence later mentioned that he feels more confident heading into Year 2, as expected.
3. Devin Lloyd among those banged up
Though there was some good news on the injury front in Jacksonville, moments later Pederson would share some not-so-good news to start camp. Rookie LB Devin Lloyd was not able to participate in any portion of practice on Monday due to a hamstring injury suffered during the team’s conditioning test on Sunday.
Pederson did not offer a timetable on the rookie backer, but both rookie LB Chad Muma and veteran LB Shaq Quarterman were able to step in Lloyd’s place among the starting defense.
Lloyd was still able to take some mental reps during camp, though, standing beside defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell during the majority of practice.
A couple of other players that continue to nurse some injuries are receiver/return specialist Jamal Agnew, who suffered a devastating hip injury last year, and free-agent signee Darious Williams, who is dealing with an undisclosed injury, one that he has dealt with since earlier this spring.
Williams and Agnew were able to participate during some portions of camp on Monday but were held out of the more extensive drills in the latter portion of camp.
All three of Agnew, Williams and Lloyd will be important for Jacksonville this season, so holding them out of the first day, even if the injuries aren’t perceived as serious, is a good thing.
“I will just say this, we have two guys coming out of the conditioning test yesterday – Jamal Agnew is one that we’re going to ‘day by day’ with him. He’ll be out here working with some individual work, working with our medical team. Day to day with him,” Pederson said.
“Devin Lloyd is the one that’s probably going to miss some time. He has a little hamstring that popped up yesterday on him. Nothing too significant, but we’re just going to be cautious with him and give him some time.”
4. Jaguars offensive line competition already presenting intrigue
In what will likely be one of the major storylines during camp in Jacksonville this year. The first day of camp’s starting offensive line created some intrigue today, particularly in the middle of the line.
On Monday, the team’s starting OL featured (from left to right) left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Tyler Shatley, center Luke Fortner, right guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Jawaan Taylor. For now, the only players currently locked into their roles are Robinson and Scherff, with the rest of the line in flux.
Though it will likely change a bit day by day as camp moves forward, Fortner getting the nod over Shatley at center is intriguing. The interior OL out of Kentucky was selected with the first pick in the third round this year (pick No. 65) and will likely play in some form to start the year.
Shatley, entering his ninth year in Jacksonville, is another player that is expected to get some run with the starting unit this year. Given his versatility to play both the center and guard positions, Shatley has become one of the more important pieces on the Jacksonville OL as they look to rebuild it with new OL coach Phil Rauscher in charge.
Though we haven’t seen the pads come on (that’ll likely occur on Sunday), the team’s OL will feature another heavy-weight bout with Taylor, a four-year veteran, facing off against second-year OL Walker Little for the right tackle position. Look for that starting lineup to flip throughout camp, too.
Following practice, Lawrence praised Fortner, noting that though he hasn’t had many reps with Fortner, so far, so good.
“I think he’s done a great job just picking up the offense, for one, really smart guy,” Lawrence mentioned of the rookie. “And then physically [he] looks great, looking great. Got a lot of reps today, so it’s nice to get him in there and get more comfortable there. I think he’s gonna do a great job.”
5. Jaguars defense features new faces on Day 1
Though it is still incredibly early, it’s clear to see what the Jaguars starting lineup could look like moving forward, particularly when the pass-rush set is on the field.
During one portion of practice, the team’s starting secondary featured Andre Cisco, Rayshawn Jenkins, Shaq Griffin, Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams.
The team’s linebacker unit featured a mix of Fouye Oluokun and Shaq Quarterman/Chad Muma, while the defensive line featured Josh Allen, Dawaune Smoot, Roy Robertson-Harris and Travon Walker.
During the team’s base set, defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi was inserted into the lineup, along with veteran DT Malcom Brown.
The team’s secondary is one of the more notable changes with Andrew Wingard in a competition to start with Cisco. Last season Wingard was one of the major participants with the team’s starting unit, while Cisco primarily took reps with the backups.
Williams will be the team’s starting nickel with Tre Herndon as the team’s backup, at least for now.
The Jaguars' defense has been given a boost of talent over the past couple of offseason, and will likely be more one of the more crisp units seen throughout camp and into the regular season. Though the team has some new faces involved now, it is certainly heading in the right direction.