Jacksonville Jaguars: Things Learned from Jaguars Minicamp

Dustin TylerCorrespondent IJune 21, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars sets to pass against the Indianapolis Colts January 1, 2012 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

As fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars eagerly await the start of training camp at the end of July, it gives us time to look back and reflect on what we learned from the team's first minicamp under the new regime.

What was apparent from the second the first practice opened was that the Jaguars were prepared to move on without disgruntled star Maurice Jones-Drew.

Rashad Jennings, Jalen Parmele and DuJuan Harris were all given extensive looks during the practices.

While MJD will be back at some point, at least Jennings looks healthy and able to carry the load.

Another great season from the running game can only help a more confident Blaine Gabbert.

Gabbert suffered through an offseason of extreme criticism over his dismal rookie season.

But in minicamp, he looked much more comfortable, confident and in control of the offense than at any point in 2011.

Eben Britton looked strong and mobile in his return from an injury that cost him most of last season.

The strength and cohesiveness of the offensive line will translate to every other aspect of the offense.

The receiving corps for the Jags was the most scrutinized position on the roster and was also the most addressed during the offseason.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Running back Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes upfield against the Indianapolis Colts January 1, 2012 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The additions of Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans via free agency and Justin Blackmon through the draft can only help this much-maligned unit.

The receivers were easily the stars of minicamp, with each making several eye-catching grabs.

This looks at first glance to be a much improved unit.

While there was not much to improve on the sixth-ranked defense from last season, the Jaguars still went out and added depth along the defensive line and in the secondary.

Andre Branch showed that he was worth the second-round pick that the team used on him, displaying both speed and power coming off the edge.

He planted himself firmly in the discussion for a starting spot.

Austen Lane also showed great improvement in speed and technique, getting into the backfield more regularly than in previous seasons.

With the return of Rashean Mathis from an ACL injury and the addition of Aaron Ross through free agency, the secondary got a much-needed boost.

Ross showed great technique during practice both in coverage and in the return game.

The selection of punter Bryan Anger in the third round of the draft was easily the most controversial move the front office made this offseason.

However, after consistently downing the ball inside the 10, booming punts 50 yards and averaging five seconds of hang-time, he is well on his way to showing fans that he was worth the lofty pick.

While the majority of what was seen during the minicamp practices was positive, not everything is how the Jaguars coaching staff would like it.

The absence of another prominent Jag loomed large.

Brandon Coutu shanked and mishit a couple of kicks.

This did nothing to help the fans forget that Josh Scobee is presently unsigned.

And with defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu still recovering from injuries, the offensive line was able to open holes in the middle of the defense that the running game was able to exploit.

Nothing that was done on the field would lead anyone to believe that this team will not be much improved from last season.

It's what was missing from the minicamp practices that could prove to be detrimental.

Whether it's the players who are still injured or those who are absent because of contract issues, the Jags need to be at full force come Week 1.

Minicamp showed that things are definitely moving in the right direction and the Jaguars are a team that could surprise many people in 2012.