The early days of training camp are known for producing workout superstars.
On Friday, a dark horse wide receiver emerged. Kentucky Wesleyan product Keelan Cole made three extremely impressive downfield catches while being heavily covered during the Jaguars' second training camp practice.
Cole made a really nice leaping catch on Thursday off a Brandon Allen throw. His highlight reel second day furthered his spot in the back of the minds of media members and the fans.
The undrafted wide receiver started the morning off with an impressive grab toward the sideline that gained about 20 yards off another Allen throw. Backup quarterback Chad Henne then hit Cole on a go route, where the wide receiver was being held and still made an impressive one-handed grab.
To round out the day of highlights, Cole leaped over a defensive back to make a big catch on a downfield throw from Allen. Cole held onto the ball as he crashed to the ground.
The rookie told reporters after practice that he and Allen had worked on their chemistry at a local high school before training camp. Cole, like Allen, has a lot to prove this offseason. Both have opportunities to earn important roles on the roster.
Still, Cole won't get ahead of himself. He knows he is still a wide receiver from small school on a packed depth chart.
"It's only been two days," Cole said. "I've got a lot more to prove, I've got to make every catch, not just the great ones. I've got to make every single one of them, no matter if it was a bad pass or not."
While Cole shouldn't get too excited over his first two practice performances of training camp, he has impressed at least one player ahead of him on the depth.
"I thought he had a good OTA [period]," former Pro Bowl wide receiver Allen Robinson said regarding Cole. "He’s having a pretty good camp. He’s one of those guys that wants to learn and get better each and every day.”
Bortles puts together a second solid day
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is facing a make-or-break season. He worked hard in the offseason to improve his potential for the year and so far the results have shown in glimpses.
While Bortles wasn't setting the world on fire, he looked very comfortable in team drills. He went through several sessions where he showed improved accuracy and decision-making.
Bortles started the team drills by hitting wide receiver Allen Robinson on a comeback route. He also made quite a few nice throws to Marqise Lee on go routes and Allen Hurns on crossing routes.
The quarterback has also done a good job with short yardage throws so far. While the zip on his throws hasn't been all that consistent, there were some absolute bullets across the middle during practice two.
This Jaguars staff seems to want to use their running backs as receivers more than the previous regime. Bortles has done a good job of being accurate with throws to the flat.
More News and Notes
- First-round pick Leonard Fournette saw an increased number of reps with the first team. Second-round rookie Cam Robinson also saw several more snaps with the first team at left tackle during the team's second practice.
- A fun way to remember the returners: 11, 12, 13, 14. The Jaguars let Lee, Dede Westbrook, Rashad Greene and Shane Wynn work on their return skills in practice. Cole also got a few reps as a kick returner, but we won't let No. 84 ruin the returner number synergy game.
- The Jaguars had full attendance for the second-straight practice. Safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church have played well during team drills. Church said after practice that their chemistry is "off the charts."
- The Jaguars worked on last-second field goal preparation toward the end of practice. The results were mixed.
- Jaguars football executive Tom Coughlin is already walking on the field to monitor practice. That will be something to watch closely moving forward.
- Third-year linebacker Hayes Pullard had two near-picks. The first one fell incomplete because he ran into a defensive back. The second bounced off his hands, then bounced through the hands of rookie cornerback Jalen Myrick and then hit the ground.
- Veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye had another nice pass breakup, this time on a Bortles throw to Lee.
- Fournette continues to prove naysayers wrong (kind of), showing quality hands as a receiver. However, there were some pretty brutal drops by other players during practice. Rookie tight end Caleb Bluiett had a wide open drop off a pass from one of the backup quarterbacks. Fullback Tommy Bohanon also had a pretty bad drop during individual drills.
- Church on the comparisons between Fournette and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot:
"I definitely see a little bit of similarities. They are both very strong backs. They run very hard and they have great vision. Like I saw in Zeke last year – you knew from OTAs that he was going to be the real deal. I saw the same thing with Leonard this year. He is running hard. He is making all the great cuts. His vision is unbelievable for a guy that young. He just brings a lot of power and pop to his game. I am excited to see what he can do out there. We definitely have to go out on the field and once we get those pads on see what really is going on. I feel like the sky is the limit for that kid.”
- Saturday's practice will be open to season ticket holders only and start at 6:30 p.m. It will be the first padded practice of training camp.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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