It’s about working and getting the most out of every rep at the end of the day.
The Jacksonville Jaguars wrapped up their seventh practice of training camp on Monday, another full day in preparation for the team’s preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday, as well as the rest of the season ahead.
There have been ups and downs during camp so far in Jacksonville, both offensively and defensively. Offensively, in particular, problems have been glaring in some areas – particularly the team’s work in the red zone.
On Monday, Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor was asked about the team’s struggles in the red zone last week and how important it can be in the future.
“Whenever we have the chance to compete with a defense, we want to go out and compete and play well. But at the same time, it was our first day in the red zone (Thursday). It’s like the defense does, we put the same plan in place that we put in the spring, they put in the same coverage as in the spring,” Taylor said to offer some perspective.
“So we’ve seen each other a million times with the same thing. And they had our number that day. We expect to perform no matter the situation. And we just keep working on that and improving. But I think everyone had a pretty good idea of what’s going on at the start of camp.
Taylor is right and talked about the ups and downs of camp, with the offense having a good session one day and the defense the next. Don’t get me wrong though, Taylor wants to win every time the offense ends, but that’s just not always the case.
It’s been a tough battle so far in camp, with both attack and defense having success, and that’s what you ultimately want to see from the team so deeply involved.
Here are our observations from Monday’s session:
Josh Allen has a day himself
Although the focus so far in training camp has been on the team’s No. 1 overall selection in this year’s draft, outside linebacker Travon Walker, his counterpart, OLB veteran Josh Allen, stood out on defense himself.
On Monday, Allen tore up several potential sacks on the day, wreaking havoc in the offensive backfield and prompting quick throws from quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He was also instrumental in several of the screen defense saves and other miscellaneous plays the team executed throughout the day.
On one particular play, Allen forced what would have been either a sack for the defense or an interception. Lawrence was forced to get rid of the football, throwing it down the field only for cornerback Shaq Griffin to find it – which would have been his second interception since the start of camp.
“I want to be the best player in the National Football League this year, and I’m preparing like this, and I’m going to continue to prepare like this,” Allen said last week.
Allen has been all over the Jaguars defense so far in camp this year. His ability as a defender will pave the way for the quality of the team’s defense this year.
The attack has a great session, Lawrence looks sharp
As the team practiced their pick-up and blitz pressure situations, it sometimes seemed like the offensive line was overwhelmed and unable to step in if necessary. This happened on occasion, including times when Allen was able to break free in the offensive backfield.
Still, that doesn’t mean the offense wasn’t successful that day. According to GenerationJaguar’s Jordan de Lugo, Lawrence completed 18 of 23, including seven touchdowns.
Through our eyes, Lawrence had a few good throws, including a couple to tight end Evan Engram, including one after the veteran TE snatched the ball in the air over several defenders.
Lawrence’s best throw of the game might have been the touchdown throw to receiver Christian Kirk, however, a pinpoint throw into the back corner of the end zone.
Lawrence passed to several targets today, including running backs Travis Etienne and Ryquell Armstead, receivers Zay Jones and Marvin Jones, and a host of other players.
The team’s starting flagger has been sharper than a year ago during this time, especially given the full rep split with the team’s starters.
James Robinson does a bit more
While all the attention has been on second-year fullback Travis Etienne so far this year, special attention should be given to the team’s returning James Robinson. Robinson continues to recover from a season-ending Achilles tear and has just under eight months out of surgery.
Still, he wasn’t placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) squad list to start camp, and it’s clear to see why after seven sessions at Jacksonville Episcopal School.
On Monday, Robinson was able to do more than ever, working the majority of the team’s individual drills with the rest of the backs while in full pad. This included some routes and some sideways agility drills.
He didn’t look bad either, and it was hard to tell he had been hurt before. Robinson has also not yet worn protective padding on his leg, and does not appear to favor the leg.
“It’s credit for the work he’s done all through the spring, all through the summer,” Taylor said July 27 when asked about Robinson.
“After that injury, you never really know the timeline. I know there have been experiences where some guys come back faster and some guys don’t, whatever. So it’s a testament to James, the training staff, the work that he did.
There’s still time before the mid-August deadline for Robinson’s return, but so far so good.
Several players stand out in one-on-ones
The Jaguars resumed the coveted one-on-one sessions with offensive and defensive linemen on Monday. We tracked the majority of reps, a drill that gives observers a good look at the physique and speed of these players.
During the session, several players stood out, including defensive linemen Dawaune Smoot, Jay Tufele and DaVon Hamilton. Although Hamilton had at least one poor rep, landing on the ground, he made up for it with plenty of power from inside against center Luke Fortner.
Tufele posted a few reps which led to defensive line coach Brenston Buckner giving some tough workouts, ensuring Tufele finished the rep strong. Still, it was encouraging for the team staff to take a look at their young second-year defenseman.
Without listing the majority of players (it would be impossible to list everyone who had good reps without going too long), a few of the offensive linemen who stood out were left tackle Cam Robinson and right tackle Walker Little .
Robinson started the day with strong performance against OLB rookie Travon Walker, while Little had a few reps against Walker and other players, mostly blocking them. Little has played as the team’s starter at right tackle while Jawaan Taylor returns from a hamstring injury.
Travon Walker displayed strong rep against Robinson in the second meeting of the two, but it’s clear who the veterans are and who the young, still-learning players are. Robinson was one of the standout players in the first two days of camp, looking like a veteran leader after signing a new three-year contract with the team.
One-on-one drills are the quintessential ‘ebb and flow’ drills a team can perform, and they’re often seen as the ultimate solution to determining a player’s value. While valuable, the translation to the playground on Sundays is often overdone, at least when there isn’t much data to work with.
A few under-the-radar players who posted strong outings:
- Outside Linebacker De’Shaan Dixon
- Defensive lineman Israel Antwine
- Offensive Lineman Wes Martin
- Quarterback CJ Beathard participated in team drills for the first time since the start of camp. Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson mentioned on Saturday that Beathard will be back when he’s ready, and it looks like he’ll be back soon.
- Jaguars defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi returned to limited action today after being sidelined with a calf injury the past two days of camp.
- OL’s Jawaan Taylor was sidelined with a hamstring injury, as was linebacker Devin Lloyd.