The Jacksonville Jaguars wrapped up the first full day of training camp with a cool breeze and a festive crowd. It was one of those typical summer days beginning with blistering heat and high humidity that is almost swamp-like, but ends with a comfortable breeze and a relaxing sunset. Nowhere was this better represented than at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields at EverBank Field. The practice mirrored the day almost perfectly.
The evening practice had a family friendly feel. Prior to the start, radio host and local celebrity, Cole Pepper hosted a pre-practice show where he got in brief interviews with Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Sims-Walker. The fans were treated to a little entertainment from the D-Line drum group, and the Roar of the Jaguars. There were quite a few families who took advantage of the opportunity to get autographs, t-shirts, necklaces, and other Jaguar themed trinkets.
The injury list apparently grew by one. Deji Karim did not participate in the practice this evening. He did not appear to have anything visibly wrong, but he was held out of all drills.
Zach Miller and Jarett Dillard spent the evening on the exercise bikes and performing conditioning drills with the training staff. Neither player seemed to be dealing with significant issues, so hopefully their time on the PUP list will be short.
There were a few players who went down with what appeared to be minor issues this evening.
Kassim Osgood appeared to injure a foot during drills late in practice. He came back and finished the practice, and he never sought attention from the training staff, but it did take him some time to get back into the rotation. The good news here is he stayed after practice to get in some additional repetitions with his position coach and Trevor Harris, so it must not have been serious.
Jacob Cutera walked off the field to the training shed to be attended to by the staff. It appeared to be a cramp, which was a pretty common theme late in practice.
The cramp monster got Daryl Smith and David Garrard before practice was over. Both players got attention from the training staff, and neither came back out in drills since it was near the end of the session. They seemed to be fine walking off afterward.
Now, let’s get to the drills.
Individual Unit Drills:
The team started off practice with some drills clearly designed to work on the hurry up offense. The first, second, and third units lined up, snapped the ball, and then sprinted forward to the next line of scrimmage. As they set, the next unit was right behind them trailing them down the field. It was an interesting drill to watch, and probably had as much to do with some of the cramping as anything later in practice.
Off to the side, the defense was working on similar agility drills where they were working on a figure 8 routine. The defensive lines were also running the pylon gauntlet again this evening.
I paid particular attention to Aaron Kampman to see how he handled these drills, and if we did not know he had a serious knee injury less than a year ago, nothing about his performance would have given it away. Kampman is clearly ahead of schedule and running full speed out there.
The receivers had a chance to open things up a bit during individual drills. Each one made nice grabs on deep sideline routes, but Jason Harmon probably had the most acrobatic grab of the session as his pass was slightly overthrown. He extended to make the catch, and then went into a tumbling flip forward. He never lost concentration, and held on to the ball.
One player who probably would love to have this practice back is Cecil Newton. This was probably one of the worst practice sessions ever for a guy playing center with the second unit. Newton will likely slide to the third team as a result. During the practice, he had one muffed exchange with Luke McCown that was his fault and two snaps over the head of McCown in the shotgun. It was not a good night for Newton.
David Garrard had some accuracy issues this evening on the deeper passes. On successive passes, he overthrew Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas. Later on, he skipped a pass to Kassim Osgood on a deeper corner route.
Nate Hughes, who is normally as reliable as a Swiss watch, had a couple of drops during the individual drills, including a short pass delivered by Luke McCown that bounced in and out of his hands.
7 x 7:
David Garrard missed Marcedes Lewis coming over the middle on a deep crossing pattern. Anthony Smith was in tight coverage, but the ball was overthrown, missing the mark badly. Lewis did attempt to make an adjustment to go up and get the ball, but there was enough disruption from the coverage to prevent him from making the catch.
Rashad Jennings showed some decent speed and elusiveness, breaking to the outside and getting around the corner. He has clearly bulked up a bit, but it has not impacted his speed at all.
Ernest Wilford made an outstanding catch on a Trevor Harris pass into coverage deep down the seam. Sean Considine was on Wilford’s hip as he hauled the pass in for a big gain.
David Garrard tried to go back to Wilford a couple of plays later on a quick slant. The ball fell incomplete after being tipped by Russell Allen. Had Garrard gone through his full progression, he would have seen Tiquan Underwood behind coverage streaking down the sideline wide open.
11 x 11:
For the first time, Reggie Nelson had an opportunity to run with the first team. In reality, it could also be the last time he runs with the first team.
The highlight of this drill was the jail break by Terrence Knighton and Larry Hart who both blew right through Paul McQuistan and would have crushed Luke McCown if contact was allowed. McCown was forced to throw the ball away as they ran by.
Tyron Breckenridge made a heads up play catching Montell Owens in the backfield as soon as he hauled in a dump off pass from David Garrard. Had they been in pads, Breckenridge would have taken Owens head off.
Luke McCown connected with Mike Sims-Walker with pressure coming up the middle again. Walker was running a crossing route, saw McCown was in trouble, and came back to the quarterback with Rashean Mathis in his back pocket. Walker was able to snag the pass before stepping out of bounds just ahead of Mathis.
9 X 11:
David Garrard threw three passes to start the drill. All three were short slants to either a running back or tight end. He finally targeted a receiver when he went to Clarence Denmark on another short slant. However, the local prospect was unable to haul the pass in because it was tipped by Anthony Smith before he could get a hand on the ball.
Clarence Denmark made a great turnaround catch on a pass thrown behind him by Luke McCown. He had to make a spin to get to the ball, and he was able to maintain concentration and pull the pass in.
Luke McCown connected with Chad Kackert on a sideline pass with Gerald Alexander in perfect coverage. The ball was slightly underthrown, and Kackert made the proper adjustment to get back to the ball, making the play behind Alexander.
David Garrard connected on two deeper passes including one to Kassim Osgood along the sideline with Don Cary in coverage.
Garrard came back and hit Marcedes Lewis on a deep post route with Daryl Smith in tow. Lewis got behind Smith and hauled in the perfectly delivered pass with relative ease.
Trevor Harris tried to go deep to Ernest Wilford who was running a corner route. The pass was underthrown badly and wound up being intercepted by Sean Considine.
Marcedes Lewis showed a good bit of concentration on a play that probably winds up costing Reggie Nelson his brief stint with the first team. Luke McCown launched a deep pass along the sideline to Lewis. Nelson actually had the angle on the ball and probably could have intercepted it, but he left his feet and just tipped the ball away. Unfortunately for him, the tip ricocheted off his hands and directly into Lewis’ welcome grasp.
Nelson subsequently returned to the huddle where he did his pushups after being chastised by his defensive coordinator.
Nelson was not done witnessing a big play. Later in the drill, Ernest Wilford caught a pass from Trevor Harris that was over the top of coverage being applied by Nelson.
Nate Hughes finished a rough practice by making a nice catch on a pass from Luke McCown. As he attempted to pull the pass in, Josh Gordy put a chop on the ball and knocked it free.
Trevor Harris connected on a deep seam route with Kassim Osgood. The ball was perfectly delivered, and shows Harris’ ability to make the passes. Unfortunately, it was a drill in which they were not running at full speed. Still, it was a great pass.
Mike Caussin, already a long shot to make the roster, probably did little to help his cause. Trevor Harris hit him in the seam squarely, and the ball bounced right off his hands. Ernest Wilford probably had a little smile on his face.
If these early sessions are any indication of what our offense is going to look like, Maurice Jones-Drew and the tight end corps will be the biggest recipients of passes from David Garrard, because the overwhelming majority of his passes are going to the short option. This was particularly the case during this session as David really locked into the short routes as his preferred targets.
Despite their struggles with accuracy, at least Trevor Harris and Luke McCown were trying to get the ball down the field. It may not have been pretty at times, but the fact that they were putting the ball up is encouraging.
This practice session was really odd because of how quickly it started, and then how laid back it was after the first few minutes. The expectation was that it would be a little more aggressive. Hopefully that will come before the pads go on Sunday evening.