Another scorching hot day down at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, where the Jaguars are hosting the team’s training camp this year, is in the books.
The Jaguars are heading into the weekend where full pads will be on for the first time on Sunday, something everyone anticipates every year as training camp unfolds. Pederson is ready to see what his team has at full speed, but cautions player safety, noting they will not necessarily be tackling even with the pads on.
“You put the pads on for the first time on Sunday and player safety, again, we don’t tackle. We don’t go to the ground. We stay up. We don’t cut guys. We practice fast,” said Pederson.
“It’ll be the first time in pads for these guys since really in several months since the end of the regular season. You just want to see an extension of what we’re doing. It’ll be no different – practice may be a little bit longer. You get a little better idea, I think, up front especially when you do these team run periods just to see the fits and the combination blocks.”
Pederson also opined on his second-year quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, noting that the progress he’s seen from him is “exciting.”
“He looks sharp. He looks crisp. Gosh, he sees the field really well right now. He’s commanding the offense. He’s still in the growth mentality, which is exciting. He still wants to get better each and every day,” he said.
“We’ve seen that out of him. He’s leading not only by example but being able to go up to players and talk to them about routes or protections with the o-line or whatever it may be. He’s in a good place. It’s still early in camp, but we like where he’s headed.”
Here are our observations from the fourth day of training camp:
C.J. Beathard is making his way back
The Jaguars’ quarterback situation has been overshadowed a bit by the starter, but its backup situation will be intriguing to watch moving forward. Beathard has yet to take snaps in team drills, instead just warming up with the players and going through mental reps as the day goes on.
On Thursday, we asked Pederson about Beathard and where he might be in his recovery. For now, the backup QB is “day to day,” the head coach said.
“C.J. is doing well. Day to day with him. Want to go cautious. He’s throwing in some of the drill work that we’re doing. We just want to protect him right now, so any day we can see him back out.”
That’s good news for the team’s QB room that will need some depth behind Lawrence as they continue to progress through the preseason and into the regular season. Jacksonville has Jake Luton on its roster, while QB Kyle Sloter was signed just a day before camp began to be another practice arm for the players and franchise.
Lawrence, offense struggles in the red zone
The Jaguars worked on red zone drills on Thursday, the first time observers could get a look at how Lawrence and his receivers adapted to the new offense and tighter field as it gets closer to the goal line.
There were issues, to say the least. Lawrence and his receivers and backs didn’t appear to be on the same page on multiple occasions, leaving the QB looking indecisive and off his timing a bit throughout the session.
On the day, Lawrence completed just 6 out of 16 of his passes in 11 on 11 and 7 on 7 drills with one batted down (non-red zone) at the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Roy Robertson-Harris and another picked off at the goal line after a ball bounced in the air off of both tight end Evan Engram and linebacker Shaq Quarterman, who was in coverage.
Cornerback Shaq Griffin would come down with the diving pick. Lawrence finished the day with four touchdown tosses in the red zone, one interception and one rushing TD.
The QB play from Lawrence was down from his previous great days of practice, particularly on Tuesday, and it will be interesting to see how he continues to progress as camp goes on. The red zone was an area the Jaguars struggled with last season, converting just 51.28% of their trips there into touchdowns.
With a shaky first day practicing it, there isn’t a cause for alarm, but it is worth noting.
Jaguars defensive backs have a day
The inverse of the team’s offense struggling in the red zone today is that the team’s secondary had a really nice showing.
Similar to yesterday, Jaguars second-year CB Tyson Campbell continued to impress on the practice field, becoming a more confident player as the day went on. Campbell didn’t allow a completion and completely blanketed WR Zay Jones on one occasion in red zone drills near the end of practice.
A couple of other DBs stood out, including Griffin, as noted earlier, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, nickel corner Tre Herndon and rookie CB Montaric “Buster” Brown.
Jenkins had a solid day in red zone work, able to cover tight end Dan Arnold, breaking up what could have been an easy touchdown.
Brown has had a solid day of camp, able to showcase why he was perhaps a bit underrated coming out of Arkansas last year. Brown was drafted as the team’s final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and made first-team All-SEC last season with the Razorbacks.
On one occasion, Brown completely stymied any progression from undrafted free agent rookie WR Kevin Austin, who also slipped on the play. The ball would go incomplete from the team’s backup QB, but Brown looked to be all over the play regardless of the slip and fall.
Herndon, who is entering his fifth season in Jacksonville, has put on a good showing as the team’s top backup nickel corner with Darious Williams still recovering from injury. Herndon made multiple nice plays on Thursday, including a PBU on a ball from Lawrence intended for WR Christian Kirk.
Kicker situation needs some attention
The Jaguars entered training camp with just two kickers on its roster, including veteran kicker Ryan Santoso and undrafted free agent rookie kicker Andrew Mevis. The team added the players after releasing Matthew Wright earlier this offseason due to Wright’s inability to consistently convert kickoffs into touchbacks.
Though the two kickers the team brought in appear to be fine in that regard, both able to convert all of their practice kickoffs into touchbacks, their inconsistency in making field goals stood out on Thursday.
ESPN’s Mike DiRocco has been keeping track of the team’s kicking situation and noted that Mevis converted just 1 out of 4 of his field goals, while Santoso converted all four of his attempts in team drills. Santoso, however, did miss a couple during warmups.
↔️Trevor Lawrence 6-16-1, 4TD, TD run— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) July 28, 2022
⬆️Jake Luton 9-17-0, 5 TD, TD run, 2 drops
⬇️Kyle Sloter 2-6-0, 2 drops
Laquon Treadwell 2 TD catches
Andrew Mevis 1-4 FGs, Ryan Santoso 4-4 FGs
⛑Jawaan Taylor, Foley Fatukasi DNP
These inconsistencies have shown up twice now during the first week of practice with neither kicker really standing out ahead of one another - though Santoso looks to have the early lead in that regard.
Jacksonville may want to find a spare kicker at some point during the preseason rather than attempt to enter the regular season with an unknown.
Jawaan Taylor, Foley Fatukasi held out of drills
The Jaguars didn’t enter camp with an abundance of injuries, but the first week has already seen three potential starters miss some time. On Thursday, both right tackle Jawaan Taylor and defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi were held out of practice, only doing some conditioning work off to the side.
That enabled Walker Little to get an extended look at right tackle and DaVon Hamilton to get more work inside as the team’s backup nose tackle. The Jaguars’ depth at DT is perhaps the best on the defensive side of the football.
- Luke Fortner is the team’s starting center until he isn’t. For the fourth day in a row, Fortner was seen running with the first team at practice without anyone coming in to replace him.
- Safety Andrew Cisco is on a similar path as Fortner. Cisco has yet to be pulled from team drills as the team’s starter opposite of Jenkins. He’s the second starting safety within the group.
- Jay Tufele continues to impress with his ability inside and quick movement, but that will be better to assess once the pads get put on.
- Shaq Quarterman has quickly become one of the top backups at LB, filling in for both Devin Lloyd, who is still working his way back from a hamstring injury, and Foye Oluokun, who had to exit for a few plays and get his hand tapped during team drills.