On Day 1, the notable standouts were who you would expect as Trevor Lawrence walked onto the field as confident as ever, and Josh Allen looked unblockable off the edge as he enters a contract year, but it was Calvin Ridley that stole the show in his very first practice with the team.
The star wide receiver gave fans at the Miller Electric Center a taste of what he will bring to this offense, as several video clips of Ridley went viral on social media showcasing the quickness and playmaking ability that made him a second-team All-Pro selection back in 2020.
While Day 2 wasn’t quite as noteworthy, some more Jaguars stars flashed at various points as Travis Etienne, Zay Jones, and Travon Walker all reportedly had splash plays.
Fans and the media will naturally gravitate more towards those bigger names for the remaining twelve camp practices, but there are also some interesting under-the-radar positional battles to keep an eye on as well.
Let’s take a deeper look at three most intriguing Jacksonville Jaguars position battles to watch for the remainder of training camp.
No. 3 pass rusher
Battle: K’Lavon Chaisson vs. Jordan Smith vs. Yasir Abdullah
The Jaguars re-signed free agent Dawuane Smoot last week, but the veteran edge rusher is still recovering from a late season Achilles tear that will keep him on the sidelines for a little while longer. In the meantime, Jacksonville should hope for one of K’Lavon Chaisson, Jordan Smith, or Yasir Abdullah to step up as the third pass rusher behind Josh Allen and Travon Walker.
Doug Pederson has already hinted at Chaisson potentially being that guy after the first day of training camp, telling reporters…
“When we’re in base defense, he’s a guy that’s going to be a rotational guy. Depth chart wise, he’s probably three behind Josh and Travon.”
Now the ball is in Chaisson’s court. It will be on him to showcase his growth after three years of struggling to find production. If he’s unable to do that, then 2021 fourth-round pick Jordan Smith and rookie fifth-round pick Yasir Abdullah will look to prove they’re just as hungry to make an impact in 2023.
No. 4 inside linebacker
Battle: Ventrell Miller vs. Shaq Quarterman
Jacksonville’s inside linebacker group is arguably the teams’ deepest unit on the defense. Their top three on the depth chart are pretty much set in stone with Foyesade Oluokun, Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma. However, after the selection of Ventrell Miller in the fourth-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, that fourth spot could be a fun battle to follow in training camp.
Last season, Shaquille Quarterman manned that role after a demotion of sorts due to the selections of Lloyd and Muma in the draft, but he took it in stride and performed well in a predominantly special teams-centered role. With him entering the final year of hist rookie deal, the selection of Miller would indicate he’s on his way out soon, but there is still plenty of incentive for Quarterman to hold onto his position on the depth chart. His performance in training camp could very well decide his fate with the team.
Battle: Tre Herndon vs. Christian Braswell vs. Erick Hallett
I’m not sure you can really consider it a true “battle” at the nickel position, as Tre Herndon is unlikely to lose his spot to a rookie, but the additions of Christian Braswell and Erick Hallett in the 2023 NFL Draft do make the competition a little more intriguing.
The Jaguars re-signed the veteran Herndon to a one-year deal this offseason after an up and down year in 2022, giving him his third contract with the team since joining the organization as an undrafted free agent back in 2018. His familiarity with the defense gives him a huge edge over the rookies but he is by no means unbeatable.
Christian Braswell and Erick Hallett were both taken in the sixth round of this years’ draft to add much needed depth to the secondary, but there is an outside chance one of them could steal snaps away from Herndon over time if they impress through training camp. Both players are experienced in the slot and will have the athletic advantage over Herndon right away. If either player pairs that athleticism with a quick understanding of the defense, then things could get uncomfortable for Tre Herndon as the season progresses.
What other position battles do you have your eye on in training camp?