The Jaguars returned to the practice fields on Sunday from their trip to Canton, Ohio over the weekend, fresh off of a Hall of Fame game loss against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday.
Head coach Doug Pederson would make the trip back up to Canton on Saturday to watch his former teammate, safety Leroy Butler, friend, former Eagles, Rams and Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil, along with Jaguars legend and Hall of Fame left tackle Tony Boselli get enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The event, Pederson said Sunday morning, was good, an opportunity for him to see the enshrinement ceremony in person for the first time.
“[It was] very special to not only see the eight that went in but also the other Hall of Famers. It’s a special deal, and it really meant a lot to me,” said Pederson.
“I love the history of the game and how people come up through this league. I thought all the speeches and presentations were well done, and Tony’s was exceptional. It was good to see him and his family. It was a good day.”
Saturday wasn’t just important for Boselli and the Jaguars, though, it was also important for the City of Jacksonville itself. “Duval” rose to the occasion, showing up in droves for the occasion. Pederson took note, and when asked if he could feel the importance to Jacksonville, he stated “100 percent,” he could
“There were a ton of fans there. Organizationally, we had a lot of people there, the media was there. Really felt the impact of the love this city has for this team, the organization over the years. That was definitely felt yesterday.”
Defensive thrives in live-hitting drills
The Jaguars tackled to the ground for the first time during practice on Sunday, making their presence felt on the defensive side of the football. It was the first time observers got a good look at some of the top defensive players on the team - including free-agent signees linebacker Foye Oluokun and defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi actually tackling players.
Aside from starting center Luke Fortner and backup right tackle Walker Little, it was the entire offense’s first time getting hit, and it showed up during practice with pads thumping with intensity.
One of the standouts of the day was safety Andre Cisco, who laid out the first big boom after delivering a huge hit to running back Travis Etienne near the sideline.
Cisco would deliver another blow during goal-line drills, forcing a fumble on running back Ryquell Armstead near the end of practice. During one of the team’s last reps with Etienne involved, Cisco was able to make a nice open-field tackle on the RB, something that he showcased during the team’s loss on Thursday night.
At one point during goal-line drills, the Jaguars’ defense stopped the opposing offense, both the first and second team, seven straight times. The emphasis on stopping the run was heavy after a poor showing Thursday night.
Speaking after practice on Sunday, Etienne noted that having the live reps in practice helps the offense come together that much more.
“I feel like that’s what football is about,” Etienne said. “Today was a really vital day for us because to go out there and be able to have those live reps with each other, we’re definitely gonna stronger together. And I think that’s really going to help us moving forward.”
One player we haven’t gotten an opportunity to see hit yet is Oluokun, who didn’t disappoint when put to task on Sunday. He had one of the best hits at practice, laying the boom to rookie RB Snoop Conner.
Etienne welcomes hits, feels he’s returned to football
As previously mentioned, Etienne was the subject of a few of the big hits that landed on Sunday, including a couple from Cisco. For Etienne, though, it’s what he’s wanted to feel after not being hit in a live drill or game since last year’s preseason.
“It felt great to be back out there, it’s been a long time since I’ve played football. I got reminded quickly it’s a physical game. But, that’s why we play it, that’s why we love it.”
Etienne was sidelined throughout his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury suffered during the team’s second preseason game last year, against the New Orleans Saints. His recovery from what injury has gone off without a hitch, with Etienne taking part in all team drills since the start of camp, looking explosive and fast on the gridiron.
The hit he took from Cisco was a good reminder of just how physical the game of football is. What’s next for Etienne is he wants to just get back to himself, and he welcomes the hits that come along with that journey.
“I need that. I haven’t played in so long, I want to get tackled, I need to get tackled,” Etienne said when asked why he didn’t just step out of bounds on the hit delivered by Cisco. “Just to get my body acclimated with that. I’ve just been at home, working out, chilling on the couch, stuff like that.
“Bumps and buries, I missed that, I missed that contact. I may sound crazy, but I missed kind of being in those car crashes.”
Etienne made sure to say that what happened on the practice field on Sunday, wouldn’t necessarily happen in an actual game. He simply wanted to get the hit out of the way and start getting back to real football.
The Jaguars held out Etienne from the team’s game against the Raiders on Thursday, but the young RB does want to get out there on the field Friday night against the Cleveland Browns.
“I feel like I haven't played in forever. And I feel like any chance I get to showcase my skills, I’m always ready, and I feel like, hell yeah I want to play.”
Injury roundup, Taylor returns on a limited basis
One of the major storylines heading into training camp this year was the competition between right tackle Jawaan Taylor and his backup, second-year tackle Walker Little. Over the last several days of camp, however, Taylor has been out due to a hamstring injury, giving Little an opportunity to play with the starting offense.
On Sunday, though, Taylor would return on a limited basis, part of the team’s plan to make sure he’s back to full strength before returning to the starting lineup and continuing the competition that’s expected to occur.
Other players that returned included Fatukasi, who took part in some team drills after dealing with a calf injury. Backup QB C.J. Beathard also took part in team drills again, returning from his groin injury suffered during the team’s Organized Team Activities this spring.
Receiver Jamal Agnew also returned to action, taking part in team drills for the first time since he suffered a hip injury last season. Agnew was a full participant, taking hits during the live period of 11 on 11.
Lawrence posts solid outing
Over the last couple of weeks of practice, it’s been clear that Lawrence and his receivers are beginning to develop a bit of chemistry. On Sunday, that was cleaned up a bit with Lawrence connecting on 7/11 of his passes during the team’s 11-on-11 period.
That included a couple of nice throws to Christian Kirk, Agnew and Zay Jones.
The play of the day, though, would come after Lawrence hit Etienne in stride down the field. Etienne would make an athletic reception, catching the ball over his shoulders before turning on the afterburners.
Lawrence was one of the several starting offensive players to be held out of Thursday’s matchup against the Raiders. It’s unclear whether or not the team will hold the starters out for a second-straight week, but the time that he and the first-team offense is getting on the practice field has been valuable.
It’s been a few weeks into camp now, Jaguars RB James Robinson still hasn’t participated in team drills, but he has continued to showcase his skills in individual drills. Today, he donned full pads like the rest of the team but did have a sleeve on his right leg. Though, the injury he suffered, a torn Achilles, was suffered on his left leg.
Cam Robinson continues to dominate
One player that is having an excellent camp for Jacksonville is left tackle Cam Robinson, who recently signed a three-year extension with the team. During Sunday’s practice, that would continue with Robinson stonewalling multiple Jaguars defenders in the team’s one-on-one drills.
Robinson went up against outside linebacker Travon Walker on a drill, making sure the rookie couldn’t get anything going. Walker was unable to get around the big-man offensive tackle, giving him a taste of what it’s like to play in the NFL.
Robinson also went up against outside linebacker Josh Allen. Once again, there was nothing doing from the defensive side of the ball, Robinson dominated.
His teammate, right guard Brandon Scherff had plenty of good to say about Robinson when asked about him on July 31.
“He’s a great left tackle in this league, and’s very energetic and it’s kind of fun to see players enjoy,” Scherff said. “Some guys just come out and sulk and moan about practice, and it’s nice to have fun because it makes the day a lot more enjoyable for everybody else.”
- Backup OL Will Richardson went down on Sunday with an undisclosed injury, he was able to gingerly walk over to the training tent and would return to the sideline, though he did not return to action during practice.
- Newly signed running back Matt Colburn was on the practice field on Sunday, taking part of individual and team drills. He was signed after the team waived/injured RB Nathan Cottrell.