Early afternoon rain forced the Jaguars off the field during their first training camp practice Thursday.
The damp ending to the session was one of the few disappointments during the initial practice of the 2017 campaign. For the most part, practice was pretty evenly contested with only a few minor hiccups, due to the heat.
Quarterback Blake Bortles had a solid day, alternating his attack from short throws to his running backs to downfield missiles to his wide receivers.
The main benefactor of Bortles' passes was former Pro Bowl wide receiver Allen Robinson, who showed off his tremendous leaping ability and reliable hands.
The two connected early and often, which drew positive reactions from the fans.
"That’s something that it’s not like we have to throw, I don’t think, year-round," Bortles said. "It’s something we can go work separately, individually and get back together. We’ve been together now going on four years and I think that rapport just kind of picks up where it left off.”
The two players connected for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015. The Jaguars are hoping to see a return to that success this season.
Bortles also hit wide receiver Marqise Lee in stride on a downfield throw with tight coverage during 11-on-11 drills. His day wasn't full of highlights, but he protected the ball and connected on the overwhelming majority of throws.
Bortles mechanics look improved, but he did have at least two overthrows on tightly contested passes.
While his work on the field was solid, Bortles did have to receive an IV during practice due to the heat. Lee, Telvin Smith, Luke Bowanko and Abry Jones were among the several other players dealing with heat issues during practice.
Fournette can catch in practice
The notion that Leonard Fournette can't catch probably won't go away after just one training camp practice. However, the rookie running back showed off consistent hands in his training camp debut.
Fournette's receiving ability was a big unknown to the draft community this offseason. He only caught 41 passes for 526 receiving yards and a touchdown in three years at LSU.
Some were quick to shun his receiving ability. According to Fournette, his college offense simply didn't cater to a receiving back.
Bortles said after practice that Fournette has been a good route runner and receiver out of the backfield this offseason.
"I knew he was a good downfield runner, but he's been really good out of the backfield," Bortles said. "Good with routes, he's good doing one-on-one stuff with linebackers, getting away, creating separation and he's got really good hands."
Fournette alternated between the first and second teams on Thursday, but if he can show more receiving prowess, he could be elevated quicker than some expected.
- The starting offensive line was Branden Albert at left tackle, Tyler Shatley at left guard, Brandon Linder at center, A.J. Cann at right guard and Jermey Parnell at right tackle.
Albert ran with the third-string unit during mandatory minicamp in June, while Shatley and Cann had reversed roles during that period.
Rookie Cam Robinson got in a few snaps with the first team in relief of Albert. However, he mostly played left tackle with the second unit, which also featured Patrick Omameh at left guard, Luke Bowanko at center, Earl Watford at right guard and Jeremiah Poutasi at right tackle.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said he isn't concerned about chemistry at this point, but he understands that will eventually factor into the unit's potential.
- The Jaguars had full attendance at practice, outside of cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Colvin and fullback Marquez Williams, who are all on the active physically unable to perform list.
For the first time this offseason, running back T.J. Yeldon and safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson were able to take part in individual drills.
Bortles said he was excited to see Yeldon return to practice.
Tight end Neal Sterling also returned after spending several workouts on the sidelines during the offseason program.
- Rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole had a really nice body adjustment catch on a downfield throw by third-string quarterback Brandon Allen. It was a good throw by Allen, who got the ball to where only Cole could catch it in tight coverage. The adjustment was made to stay inbounds on the catch.
Allen later connected on a downfield throw that seemed to be meant for rookie wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo, but was snatched up by fellow receiver Shane Wynn. Either the pass was a great delivery on a tight window throw to Wynn or the receiver intercepted his teammate's target.
- On defense, SAM linebacker Paul Posluszny had a nice pass breakup in coverage during 11-on-11 drills. Cornerback A.J. Bouye was also able to knock down a Bortles pass to Robinson on a crossing route.
- Marrone stayed true to his philosophy that everyone has to play special teams. Among those practicing the game's third phase were Telvin Smith, Mychal Rivera, Dante Fowler and Myles Jack. Marrone believes that starters should play special teams.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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