Today I went to the Jaguars training camp yet again to take a look at the Cardiac Cats and see exactly where they stand. I tried to evaluate as much as I could in today’s morning session and saw both good and bad things. However, I didn’t exactly see the so called “disaster” of a camp that was reported earlier this week by a few sources. Do the Jags have a ways to go? Of course. They are going into this season with a new offense and multiple new pass catchers. Most would think they’d need some time to get their chemistry going. After all, that is what training camp is for.
Gabbert had an “alright” day. He didn’t look horrible out there, but I won’t say he looked liked Drew Brees, either. He did however, look better. Mechanically, he’s looks nothing like he did last year–Coach Olsen’s work with him has really shown. He stands tall in the pocket, doesn’t force throws that essentially lead to picks, and he didn’t show signs of skittishness, which he was accused of last season. He did have some throws where he overthrew his targets, but as I said, he and most of the receivers are trying to get that fixed, which will take time. He did connect with Robinson multiple times today, and is continuing to build a bond with him. From what I hear, he’s making progress day by day, and I can definitely see it. Yes he has a ways to go, but the kid is improving. I see no reason for people not to believe in him.
First and foremost, I wanted to see exactly how many players of the starting offensive line were healthy. It was reported that Eben Britton and Will Rackley were the only two starters to participate in yesterdays practice. To make matters worse, Rackley had his ankle rolled up by a Running Back in yesterday’s session. He then had to be carted off and left the facility with crutches. At today’s practice I wanted to find out his status because, based on the reports I read, it didn’t look good. I spotted him at the session still with crutches (as expected) and in a boot. It was later reported that Rackley had a high ankle sprain and would miss 3 to 4 weeks. Though this is a blow to the Jaguars (who are thin at Guard), it could be a lot worse. I almost feel like the Jags dodged one here and are still relatively healthy granted this is the teams second padded practice. In the meantime coach Mularkey stated that Jason Spitz will fill in at Rackley’s spot until otherwise. It’s possible Rackley will be able to return before the first regular season game.
On a more positive note, Uche Nwaneri returned to the starting lineup after being dropped from the PUP list. This comes as good news seeing as Rackley is out for about a month and the Jags are thin at Guard. Brad Meester also returned to the starting lineup after having yesterday off. Eugene Monroe was spotted wearing a wrap over his knee and I saw him in the same predicament today. However, Coach Mularkey has said that they’re just playing it safe with Eugene and he didn’t appear to be limping. I’d expect to see Monroe return and possibly play at Friday’s scrimmage. Maybe they’ll even play it safe and let him return next week.
RB’s that stood out
One of the brighter spots I saw on the field was Rashad Jennings. I was hoping to see something out of him and the rest of the RB’s since our star, MJD, is currently holding out. He had a nice 30 yard gain in the first drill where the defense and offense combined for a face off. He bounced the play out to the sideline and ran with tremendous burst without looking back, resulting in a TD. He has nice size and runs with authority. He also showed good agility today, too. Montell Owens looked good, as well, with a nice gain up the middle for a highlight play in today’s session. Jalen Parmele also showed some great skills. He, too, runs with authority. I can’t wait to see these three in action come preseason, and I hope that they continue to shine.
According to reports, the WR’s unit hasn’t looked it’s best this week. I’ve read reports that there have been a lot of drops among the group and that they struggled to get open during this week’s training camp sessions. However, he had a good day. He started of today’s first 11 vs 11 drill with a drop on what appeared to be a slant or inside route of some sort. It’s worth noting that Cox was step for step with Robinson, but it still hit him dead in his hands. Robinson did settle down later in another 11 vs 11 drill, hauling in a nice 6-10 yard slant (I was on the total opposite side of the field). He then hauled in a nice pass off a deep post from Blaine Gabbert, and followed that up with a short curl which looked to have little to no gain. I felt that it was important to note this to show that Gabbert is slowly but surely working on his connection with Robinson. I definitely can see them developing something in time.
Lee Evan might have had the best day of the receivers in my opinion. He and Henne hooked up for a nice out route which Evans caught before stepping out of bounds for ten yards. He and Henne connected 2 plays later on a slant. Of the receivers group, I’d say Evans had the least drops of them and flashed a little bit more than Thomas, who had a couple drops today. Despite the drops however Thomas had a decent day. The surprise of the day was that Cecil Shorts was the starting WR opposite Robinson. He has a good day while doing so. Shorts will be a gut to watch as Blackmon continues to miss days. Even if Blackmon signs soon, which he isn’t close to (according ESPN’s Adam Schefter) the coaches seem to be high on Shorts. He flashed as a training camp star last year, but received little play time to prove himself in the regular season. Kevin Elliot has continued to impress as well with a streak of unbelievable catches as well. He’s going to be a player to watch as well. It’s apparent the Jags receivers unit could use some work and need Blackmon to report soon. However, their position coach, Jerry Sullivan, was aware of the shortcomings and was constantly working (and yelling) them to get them where they need to be. Day by day I’m told they are improving.
Didn’t really pay much attention to the Tight Ends apart from Lewis, who was off and on. He had a good couple of catches from Chad Henne in one 11 vs 11, one of which he ran 5-7 yards, and sat in a hole he found in the Jaguars coverage. Lewis then took off up field for a nice (roughly) 40 yard gain. Two plays later, he caught a nice 10 plus yard post in the middle of the field and dashed up field for another good gain. He did have a head-scratcher on a goal line/ redzone play where Gabbert had him open and Lewis tried to pull a one hander. I felt like that was one he and Gabbert could’ve had if Lewis would’ve tried to use both hands. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person to notice this play since 1010 XL mentioned it as well. They, too, felt that Lewis could’ve put a little more effort into that play. Other than that, he had a good practice.
Probably the brightest spot in terms of upside. Branch is as advertised and has a good first step. One play that caught my eye was one in which Branch burst past Guy Whimper with a nice jump. What was impressive was how he left Whimper lunging at nothing but air. He then disrupted Gabbert for an incomplete pass. According to multiple sources Branch has been doing this on the regular this week. He, in my opinion, could be one of this year’s camp stars and I hope he continues his progress. Mincey is looking like a veteran should. Constantly driving the offensive tackles back and causing disruption. Lane has looked good as well with George Selvie, who has added some pounds. I didn’t really get to watch either Tyson AluAlu or Knighton, but I will say Knighton looks like he’s lost some weight.
We already know what both Daryl Smith and Paul Posluszny are capable of, so I choose to take a brief look at Russel Allen to see where he stood in the starting lineup. He didn’t look bad at all in the few plays I watched of him.
Derek Cox has been tight in coverage and has had the best camp as far as the CB’s go. Aaron Ross didn’t look bad either. He seems to always be on his defender or near the ball when it’s thrown his way. Coach Tucker has been very hands on with the two (and all the DB’s) and it’s obvious he believes in his unit. I didn’t get to see Mathis on the field, but I did shake his hand afterwards and doesn’t seem to have a limp or anything. I believe the coaches will take it slow with Mathis, though I have heard he did participate in some drills this week. Dwight Lowery and Landry seemed to be in sync. I’ve seen them frequently communicating on the field. At Friday’s practice Lowery caught an interception which bounced off of Robinson’s hand. He’s been solid in coverage and Landry played the run well in today’s practice. Kevin Ruthland has been one to watch and has impressed the coaches this week. He did let Elliot snag one from him at Friday’s practice, but other than that he seemed solid. He did take a few snaps with the ones which speaks volumes on what the coaches think of him. I didn’t really see much of Mike Harris, but according to reports he’s been solid at Nickelback . It’s clear that Cornerback is the team’s deepest position and it will be interesting to see how the depth chart plays out here. Though I know we can’t keep all of them there is a lot of talent at this position and you can never have too many Cornerbacks in today’s NFL. Such depth at this position is a good thing for the Jags.
Bryan Anger a.k.a. Legatron
Anger has look great so far. He certainly doesn’t have an average leg, routinely booming punts with punts of at least five seconds. There’s no question that Anger has a lot to prove being that he was drafted in the third round. I can’t wait to see how he performs under the lights next Friday against the Giants.