By: James Johnson
The Jags announced late last week they’d be holding their last mini-camp practice Thursday at EverBank Field. After hearing the news, Gage and I decided to go check out the team to get what would be our first look at the Jags, their new staff and systems this year. Though we spent most of the time chatting it up, we did manage to find some time to jot down some notes.
The team started off with a boom as they lined up in the wildcat for the first offensive team drill. Now considering there were no defensive players lining up against them at this point, it was still exciting to see some innovation by offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.
So who was at QB for this play, you ask? Well, if you guessed Dennard Robinson you’d be correct. Lined up at WR were Cecil Shorts, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Blaine Gabbert (YES, I said Blaine Gabbert). Of course Gabbert ended up getting the ball in an end-around/reverse from Robinson and ended up throwing the ball off to Shorts. Nothing major, just thought it was something worth mentioning. I think we’ll likely see a lot of this when the regular season rolls around as the team will likely want to get the ball in Dennard Robinson’s hands (who the staff feels can be a playmaker).
Gabbert vs Henne vs Scott.
Gabbert was hot and cold. At times I felt like asking, “what was that?” but at others, he looked good–like in the red zone. Gage and I actually came to the conclusion that Henne and Scott had better overall practices. Henne struggled in the red zone at times, however. He was almost intercepted by a very impressive rookie I’ll mention later. He did score a TD in a QB option play where he ran in without being touched. Scott also had a good day overall. From what I’ve heard, he’s looked like a rookie in the practice sessions before, but Thursday he up’d his game. He had a nice option play where he ran for about 20 yards and looked good in the red zone as well. He finished off the last throw in practice with a red zone TD Pass to Ryan Otten.
First Team Offensive Lineman.
I didn’t watch the offensive line much because their story is told when the pads go on, but I did pay attention to the personnel. Though it’s just mini-camp and there is no true depth chart yet, I wanted to see who who ran with the first string offensive line. To nobody’s surprise, Eugene Monroe was at left tackle, Will Rackley was at left guard, Brad Meester was at center, Uche Nwaneri was at right guard and first round pick Luke Joeckel was at right tackle. As I’ve said there isn’t really a depth chart set yet, but I believe this is probably your starting offensive line when the season rolls around.
The Tight Ends Are an Interesting Group.
Gus Bradley singled out Marcedes Lewis as a player he was impressed with in the beginning of camp and I see why. Lewis was all over the field and seems to be leading the team as a whole with his play. With Justin Blackmon suspended I think the team will need him to step up as pass catcher. It seems he’s off to a good start in that department. Ryan Otten, who I had been curious about, flashed some. He caught a TD pass from Matt Scott to end Thursday’s practice and looked good in individual drills. Also catching the eyes of the fans was tight end Lance Kearse, brother of Javon Kearse. He was brought in as a tryout player this week and had a nice one handed grab during individual drills.
We Got a Look at WR’s Minus Blackmon and Shorts.
Shorts participated in the beginning of Thursday’s practice, but for whatever reasons afterwards was on the sidelines most of the time. He didn’t seem to be injured or anything, so I wouldn’t panic, folks. I believe it’s possible that WR’s coach Jerry Sullivan might have wanted to get a better look at the other WR’s, seeing as Shorts has already proven himself in camp so far. Blackmon, however, was on the sidelines the whole practice. After quickly searching the situation, I read on Twitter from Mark Long that he had a groin issue. Ace Sanders was given his reps over Mohamed Massaquoi, and when Shorts was on the sidelines Mohamed Massaquoi joined Sanders as the #1 and #2 wideouts. They didn’t look bad either, though I think Sanders would be better in the slot. Massaquoi caught a TD pass from Gabbert in the red zone and made the most of his snaps. Mike Brown was impressive as well as he caught multiple passes in the drills against the defense. Jordan Shipley also flashed some great route running skills.
Update: After going back I found out Shorts was sidelined for a minor hip tweak according to Mark Long. Both he and Blackmon should be fine in a little over a month for training camp.
Rookies Dwanyne Gratz and Cyprien Are ‘As Advertised’ so Far.
Dwanyne Gratz seemed to be catching on well to the NFL game. I can already see a difference in his movement skills and instincts from his college tape. He had what JP Shadrick of Jaguars.com called “the play of the day” when he nearly intercepted a pass from Chad Henne to Marcedes Lewis in the the red zone. Cyprien looks good as well. You can tell he has a lot to learn as he and Dwight Lowery were constantly communicating before each snap, but he was solid with his movement and solid in coverage. Having a veteran to communicate with constantly on the field with will only help him out, and I think they are potentially a great safety tandem. Also worth noting is the fact that Cyprien at times played deep in the backfield, even deeper than Lowery. I don’t know what Gus Bradley has in mind, but I believe its possible we may see Cyprien play some free safety, though I could be wrong.
The D-Line Alignments.
If you’ve already checked out our most recent video on our Youtube page about the defensive scheme, you’ll know that the personnel for this scheme is very important. It’s part of the reason Austen Lane was cut yesterday–because he wasn’t a fit. I decided to snap a few pictures below of the alignment to give you all a visual of what things could look like when season rolls around. Though it’s not the best quality picture, what we have here is an alignment Davis Tsu (from Field Gulls) and I touched on a little in our last podcast using two Leo’s (Ryan Davis and Andre Branch). Looks like some variation of the 4-3 under (Jet Ends) alignment that Danny Kelly from Field Gulls touched on. Expect to see this on passing downs as it looks like Bradley’s scheme will be very exciting when he gets the personnel he needs.
Overall I must say, I like what I saw. The energy was great as Gus Bradley had the practice sound system blasting with music ranging from mostly hip-hop (we heard tracks from 2 Chainz, to Future, you name it), some old school R&B (Gage and I killed The Jackson 5’s ABC), to alternative throughout the whole practice. The more Gage and I watched it became more clear that this practice was far more energetic than those of Mike Mularke, and Jack Del Rio. Despite the music, there wasn’t any goofing around or dancing by the players, but there was a sense of great tempo in each drill. As we all know, there is still a lot of work to be done and that also was clear. This team is far from a finished product, and when the pads go on I expect things to become even more exciting. Now for the long wait til July 25, which is when the players report for training camp. They officially have their first training camp practice the day after on the 26th. Stay tuned as the IES crew will keep you all current with the times and dates of each training camp practice.