This morning, I looked up at the TV mid-way through my morning gym work-out. On two of the three televisions, analysts were debating the Jacksonville Jaguars on national programming.
On June 15.
When has that ever happened before?
Naturally, most of the debate surrounded Tim Tebow making the team or not (we'll get to him in a second). But another show brought into question whether or not rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has a grasp of the Jaguars' playbook yet. Then there was a discussion about his hamstring injury. Not to mention: my mother had called me Monday night from New Jersey to inform me that Trevor Lawrence' injury was a storyline on their local news, with the anchor saying Lawrence would be out for a month (very, very inaccurate, but I digress).
Whoever those doubters may be, wherever they may spew their opinions: Lawrence silenced most of them on Tuesday. Day Two of Mandatory Mini-Camp was arguably his best day in a Jaguars' uniform so far -- and that was while still being somewhat limited.
Let's jump into this Mini-Camp edition of Mia's Quick Hits.
Lawrence's Big Day
Lawrence returned to team drills on Tuesday after largely sitting them out the last week. He started off 3-for-3 in the early period, with completions to Josh Hammond, Phillip Dorsett, and Nathan Cottrell. Gardner Minshew saw most of the snaps in that initial period.
Then came seven-on-seven, red-zone drills. Minshew began the drill (more on him below), so Lawrence did come in a bit "cold," underthrowing Ben Ellefson on his first throw of the period; that's something we saw Monday as well. It was also a great pass break-up by Daniel Thomas and Andrew Wingard. But Lawrence responded to that bit of adversity with a touchdown to Hammond on the next rep. He almost was intercepted by Jameson Houston on another pass to Hammond. Lawrence's throw was a good two steps ahead of the second-year receiver out of Florida. Lawrence finished 1-of-4 in that period.
Then came the final team period of the day, of Mini-Camp, of off-season workouts. That is where Lawrence turned it on.
He fired back-to-back completions to Phillip Dorsett, the second of which went for a touchdown. If you're on Twitter: you probably saw Jaguars' media tweet about it ten times already. Personally, I audibly gasped/yelped (I promise, unintentionally; #JournalismEthics). This touchdown pass defied logic. This ball had no business going for six points. I turned to start talking to another reporter, thinking the ball was going to drop short of Dorsett as it left Lawrence's hands and, deceivingly, looked underthrown. It kept lifting. There was about a 6-inch window between the defensive back's ear and where Dorsett's hands were while he was running. He hadn't even turned around, aside from maybe peering out of the corner of his eye. Lawrence placed it right there in that window. The ball kept rising. It was the wizardry we've heard about for years.
Lawrence finished the period 4-of-6, although one of those two incompletions was a well-placed ball to Jon'Vea Johnson in the back of the end-zone, and Johnson slipped. Dorsett added another touchdown, as did Tyler Davis.
What was most impressive was that Gardner Minshew was lights-out during the same team drill minutes earlier. Teammates were hooting and hollering for Minshew and Co. That Lawrence responded by putting on a show himself was impressive.
Minshew Balls Out, Too
"How do you solve a problem like Gardner Minshew?" is going to be a constant refrain during Training Camp. And the man himself is not a problem: he's just played so well that trading him seems ill-advised, "Trevor Lawrence in Duval County" or not.
Minshew wasn't without his flaws: he still has that every sixth or seventh throw where he throws behind the receiver or the ball ends up in no man's land. He had one such low incompletion to DJ Chark during the first team drill. He finished 2-of-3 in that period.
In seven-on-seven red-zone drills, Minshew was 3-of-4, completing a pair of touchdowns to Travis Etienne. His lone incompletion (to Dorsett) was after Minshew changed the play at the line of scrimmage, and there appeared to be some miscommunication.
Like Lawrence, Minshew elevated his game in the final team period.
Due to NFL PR reporting guidelines, I'm not able to give specifics... but Minshew and the first-team group came firing out of the gate with two trick plays on three of the first reps (the other play being a hand-off to Etienne). One of the plays -- while still following those reporting guidelines:
It was wild and spectacular. I tried to pry offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell about it post-practice, but he wouldn't bite. Minshew celebrated the touchdown with a Rob Gronkowski-esque, spike into the training facility wall. AEW, you may want to make a phone call. Minshew and the Jaguars are off the next five weeks, after all.
Minshew followed that with a touchdown to Dare Ogunbowale and then a pretty, touchdown pass through traffic to DJ Chark. Chark, whose patience appeared to wane with Minshew as the 2020 season went on, was pumped. Sandwiched in the middle was a broken play in which Minshew chose to tuck it and run. In a game situation, Minshew is probably brought down well short of the goal line. But he weaved his way through traffic and let out a triumphant shout after that play.
As the kids like to say: Gardner was "in his bag" on Tuesday. And he knew it. I didn't see this, but other reporters saw Minshew tap head coach Urban Meyer on the shoulder after one of the touchdowns. I did ask Bevell about Minshew after practice:
"It's fun to meet Gardner and know him in person. He's quite a personality. You guys probably know that better than I do," the first-year OC said. "He does a great job just managing things on the field... learning the terminology, learning the offense, I think he's been a quick study that way. I've been impressed with how fast he's picked it up. How well he communicates with his players. How well he can get us in-and-out of some of the things we're asking him to do.
"He's probably second or third level at some of the things [we're asking quarterbacks to do]... I really like what he's doing for us and I'm glad that he's here."
Offense Wins the Day
In addition to Lawrence and Minshew's big days, C.J. Beathard had arguably his best practice of the spring. He was 2-of-4 in the early team period, but would've been 3-of-4 if not for a great pass break-up by Daniel Thomas; Collin Johnson had beautifully high-pointed the ball along the sideline, but Thomas stripped him as he came down with it. In seven-on-seven red-zone drills, Beathard had a pair of touchdowns to Tyler Davis and Jamal Agnew. Beathard was 3-of-4 in the final team period with touchdowns to Davis, Tim Tebow, and Chark. Tebow did some nice high-pointing of himself on that touchdown grab.
Jake Luton only threw in the final team drill and was 2-of-3 with completions to Tebow and Luke Farrell.
All four quarterbacks will be in Training Camp. They've also each shown something that merits sticking around. But it will be interesting to see how many quarterbacks the Jaguars ultimately opt to carry on the 53-man roster and practice squad. Don't forget: veteran Mike Glennon actually started the 2020 season on the practice squad, as COVID-19 regulations allowed for veterans to do so. The Jaguars may or may not have that luxury with Beathard or Luton.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
I had Dorsett with five catches on the day, and that's not including the touchdown pass he threw. The veteran wide receiver easily led the way on Tuesday.
Chark had a pair of touchdowns during the final team period. He just looked all-around solid on Tuesday -- and seemed equally as pleased with his performance.
Collin Johnson and Josh Hammond also caught multiple passes on Tuesday.
Jamal Agnew signed a three-year deal this off-season to be the Jaguars' return specialist, $4M of the $14M guaranteed. He's only played receiver for, largely, two years. He was involved in multiple areas of the offense on Tuesday. While Laviska Shenault and Travis Etienne are definitely the "gadget" players on this roster (and perhaps Tebow), Agnew will certainly provide an additional wrinkle in Bevell's offense. Bevell coached him in Detroit, so I would expect nothing less.
(I'll file Etienne under the Running Back category... because, well :D)
For a second straight day, I looked down at my Notes App and Tyler Davis' name was littered throughout the notes. Davis caught an uncontested, 45-yard touchdown from Beathard that showcased his receiving prowess: this ball definitely had some wobble and required exquisite hand-eye coordination. Davis showed that. He had three touchdowns, easily the most of the tight ends. Granted, veterans James O'Shaughnessy and Chris Manhertz did not get much run during team drills... but it was fascinating to see Davis be the stand-out, considering Meyer signaled out fellow second-year tight end Ben Ellefson specifically on Monday for his growth. Ellefson had one target Tuesday, none on Monday.
And, yes: Tim Tebow continues to be an option in the receiving game. Again, like Davis, how much of that is Manhertz and O'Shaughnessy being given veteran reprieve? How much of that is the lack of pads and tackling? That remains to be seen. But any target that has gone down as an incompletion to Tebow has been largely the fault of the quarterback, not the 33-year old Tebow.
Tuesday was definitely the most hand-off's we have seen during team drills. They mostly went to Devine Ozigbo and Dare Ogunbowale; I would have to think the Jaguars staff is trying to see what they have with both players as much as possible. Veteran Carlos Hyde worked off to the side multiple times throughout practice. And 1,000-yard rusher James Robinson was not featured in team drills. I would not panic, Jaguars fans. I would like to think that's the Jaguars staff playing it safe with their work-horse, lead tailback -- not them trying to replace him.
The guy everyone thinks is J-Rob's replacement -- first-rounder Travis Etienne -- did get a lot of run in both the running and receiving game Tuesday. And why wouldn't he? He's only been a professional football player for a month and a half. Reps are critical for the 22-year old at this point, especially with the emphasis he and the Jaguars' staff have placed on the receiving game. He had the pair of touchdowns from Minshew during seven-on-seven. Etienne also showed a great first step after the catch during the first team drill (again, working with Minshew). Veteran Lerentee McCray chased him all the way to the end-zone... and then dragged Etienne down by the horse collar. I wasn't in Jacksonville then, but I was told it was only a few dozen yards from the spot where Dante Fowler tore his ACL during Rookie Mini-Camp in 2015. Let's play it a bit smarter next time, boys.
Kicking Competition is a Competition
There wasn't four periods worth of field goal kicking on Tuesday like there was Monday, but Special Teams Coordinator Nick Sorenson reiterated that this is a competition between long-time Jaguar Josh Lambo and Aldrick Rosas, who came on in relief of Lambo after he was placed on season-ending IR last year.
"It's what it is. It's a competition. We've got two guys. They're both very good kickers. And they're competing to win the job," Sorenson said point-blank on Tuesday. "Rosas has had success in the past, and he's showing he has the ability. They both have done very well and they're both very talented.
"That competition will continue."
During the one field goal period on Tuesday, Lambo was 5-of-5. Rosas was 4-of-5. Debate amongst yourselves.
News and Notes
- You may notice Marvin Jones Jr.'s name was not featured in any of the above sections. Like many other veterans, he didn't see as many reps on Tuesday. But just before the final, big team period, it was Jones that not only called his position group over to huddle-up.
"Tight ends! Quarterbacks!"
I heard that, looked up, and there was Jones, bringing the entire offense together. The veteran wide receiver is going to play a big role for this 2021 squad, regardless of how many touchdowns he finishes with.
- In addition to the previously mentioned Carlos Hyde, veteran safety Jarrod Wilson also worked out to the side during practice. Wide receiver Pharoh Cooper, who was signed a few weeks ago, also needed to be stretched out and received training staff attention during practice.
Leon Jacobs and Andre Cisco again worked out off to the side, as they continue their respective rehabilitation from ACL surgery. Second-rounder Tyson Campbell (hamstring) did return to the full team practice Tuesday. Defensive Coordinator Joe Cullen noted after practice that it was great to see Campbell "flying around." Speaking of...
- During the Minshew portion of the final team period: Minshew completed a pass to Nathan Cottrell. Off-season workouts are non-contact, so Cottrell scooted through defenders and into the end-zone. In a game, he'd have been tackled about 10 yards prior. But head coach Urban Meyer still made a point to yell out to one of the players that was in the vicinity and could've made a play: Myles Jack. "Myles! Fly around, Myles! Fly around!" Meyer said. And while Meyer also said there are no "winners and losers" in off-season work-out's, it would appear he is still expecting full-speed pursuit. Or, at least a "plus-two" approach.
- Meyer also has spoken about standing right next to the quarterback during practice to hear "the sound of the ball." During field goal drills, he stood directly, two-feet next to the long-snapper. Living life on the edge!!!
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And that's all, folks! Rookies will be on the field Wednesday but for a closed practice. The Jaguars and the other 31 NFL teams will take off the next five weeks before returning the last week of July for Training Camp.
We'll have plenty of other Jaguars-related stories this summer, but until then: have a great summer + thanks for reading!
Want to sound-off? Mia O'Brien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @MiaOBrienTV on Twitter.