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Jaguars Training Camp Files | Day Four

Minshew outpaces Lawrence, but Urban Meyer says they won't start keeping score until Monday. Why? Notes and observations from Saturday's practuce
Credit: AP
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks Gardner Minshew (15) and C.J. Beathard throw at the start of the team's NFL football practice in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday, July 30, 2021. (Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

Gonna be honest: I was filming a different section of practice Saturday, and inadvertently missed the first, would-be opportunity to chart quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew. I did chart most of the rest of their days (those stats are below), and while I am sure the fans are keeping score: it doesn't sound like head coach Urban Meyer is thinking about "who had more incompletions" on Day Four of Training Camp.

"Nothing's competitive yet... up to now, this is just retention and skillset," the first-year head coach said after practice, noting that defenders could not press these first four days, the so-called acclimation period. "Starting Monday, we're going to take the subjectivity out of who plays. And who makes the team.

"The number one quality of the best quarterback -- the best football player? Competitive spirit. We've had zero of that right now."

So... the numbers don't count until Monday (Sunday is an off day for the Jaguars). But, since many of you are into that sort of thing, here are the numbers and observations from Training Camp Practice Number Four.

Trevor's self-admitted, average Saturday

Lawrence once again returned to taking reps with the first-team offense Saturday, but to mixed results. He came out firing in the first two-minute drill, seven-on-seven period of Camp, finishing 8-of-10 with both a touchdown and a two-point conversion to Marvin Jones Jr. During the final team period, an 11-on-11, situational two-minute drill, Lawrence went 5-of-9, including four straight incompletions and a near-interception by defensive end Josh Allen at the line of scrimmage. After the series, Lawrence went over to passing game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to debrief; from far-away, it appeared Schottenheimer was encouraging Lawrence to flush those incompletions -- and not let them build upon each other.

"I didn't have the best day today, but that's what Training Camp's about: working out the kinks and owning our offense and the situations we'll go into," Lawrence said after practice. "I'm a lot further along [in knowing the offense] than I was in the spring, but... I don't know if you can ever say, 'I know it all.' You're always learning."

"His skill set's there. But the thing everyone has to remember is: defense is not allowed to make a play on the ball right now," Meyer added. "All you can evaluate right now is retention and skill-set. Plus, plus [for Trevor there]. The real stuff starts next week."

When it comes to retention and the "between the ears" part of being a quarterback, few can match Gardner Minshew. The third-year QB showed poise during those two-minute drill periods, quickly leading the offense down the field. He finished 8-of-9 with three completions to Pharoh Cooper and capped off with a touchdown to rookie tight end Luke Farrell. Minshew was 5-of-6 in the final team period with two, solid catches by Laquon Treadwell and a corner end-zone touchdown to Phillip Dorsett that was eerily reminiscent of Minshew's infamous touchdown to D.J. Chark on Thursday Night Football against the Titans in September 2019.

"I admire Gardner... and I appreciate what he's going through. I've seen it at the college level. That's one thing I appreciate about players. And it's never been harder than 2021 to put team ahead of self," Meyer said. "He's done a really good job -- you saw that today."

And for what it's worth: Lawrence views this as a competition, too.

"It's always a competition. When I first came into [Clemson], it was a similar situation. That's how you have to view it. It has to be a competition. Nothing can be given. When you start giving people things, you set the wrong precedent for the team."

So, the "process" of rotating between Lawrence and Minshew with the first-team offense will continue. Meyer also noted C.J. Beathard's positive Camp so far. Second-year quarterback Jake Luton finally saw team reps for the first time this Training Camp, but was limited to hand-off's.

Running Backs take Defense to school

I know, I know: the defenders aren't allowed to press. But all six running backs on the Jaguars' roster showcased speed and elusiveness Saturday both in team drills and one-on-one's. 

Both James Robinson and Travis Etienne made nice grabs during the one-on-one period, with Etienne showcasing his quick first step and leaving Quincy Williams in the dust. Dare Ogunbowale also showcased a quick first step and cut, besting Dakota Allen in coverage. Ogunbowale also had two, nice catch-and-run's from Minshew during the two-minute drill period. Devine Ozigbo got more run on Saturday, ripping a ball away from Myles Jack during one-on-one's while also showing some tough running ability during the team periods.

If anyone questioned whether or not Robinson is the Jaguars' first option at the running back position: he's first-in-line for every drill. He's lining up with the first team quarterback and center Brandon Linder during warm-up's. He got the first rep of each team period today. The Jaguars will definitely be a running back-by-committee operation, but any lack of J-Rob you may see at practice is most likely the staff resting his legs, something Robinson spoke with the media about earlier in the week.

“They always talk about having fresh players coming out, and I know once the season comes, having those fresh players is going to help out a lot," the second-year back said. In rushing for over 1,000 yards in 14 games, Robinson tallied 71-percent of the Jaguars' carries in 2020. "I mean, a big play happens, you get a couple more and then come out, and then go back in, and you can have another big play just by having fresh legs. So I think that’s going to help out a lot.”

First Lambo sighting was... not great

The final team drills were capped off with the first field goal attempts by the fifth-year Jaguars kicker... and it started out inauspiciously with a miss from about 40-yards out. Lambo made the next three kicks, only to then miss another two kicks the second time he and the special teams unit trotted out. He finished 5-of-8 on the day, with his longest kick from about 54 yards out (he missed from about 60 yards; it appeared that Meyer didn't realize how far out they really were, moved the unit up a bit, and then Lambo promptly drained the final attempt of the day). 

The Jaguars parted ways with Aldrick Rosas Friday after the back-up kicker was placed on the Non-Football Injury List. Meyer expressed clear disappointment that the decision was made. During the spring, he and Special Teams Coordinator Nick Sorenson both continuously noted that it was a competition at the kicker position, despite Lambo's 95-percent accuracy on field goals during his Jacksonville tenure. 

"I really like Rosas. So I'm not sure if we'll see -- [GM] Trent [Baalke] and I will discuss that," Meyer said after practice.

Attendance, transactions, and housekeeping

Meyer confirmed that defensive tackle and 2018 first-round pick Taven Bryan (Non-Football Injury List) suffered an "off-the-field accident." Meyer said he didn't know exactly what it was, but that Bryan was expected back soon.

Safety Jarrod Wilson has mysteriously been missing from Camp the last two days; Meyer said that was due to COVID-19 contact tracing. 

James O'Shaughnessy is expected to be back with the tight ends on Monday after suffering a sprained ankle. He worked off to the side the past three days.

In addition to Rosas, the Jaguars released linebacker Leon Jacobs with a failed physical designation. In a corresponding move, they signed wide receiver Tevin Jones. Jones caught a pass during team drills Saturday. Meyer noted after practice that the Jaguars were short on "receiver legs" after practice today. Deductive reasoning: undrafted rookie Josh Imatorbhehe did not practice today, but was at practice walking around with a noticeable limp.

The Jaguars announced the signing of an additional wide receiver, Jeff Cotton, after practice. Cotton spent last season on the Chargers practice squad. 

Quick Hits

- After a stellar showing Friday, rookie tackle Walker Little got beat bad by linebacker Dakota Allen for a would-be sack during team drills Saturday, albeit with the third-team offensive line. Little has primarily worked with the second and third units.

- The catch of practice was the first of seven-on-seven drills: Laviska Shenault hauled in a shoestring catch from Lawrence with one hand. 

- While it's still early, it would appear the Jaguars' starting line-up's for their Base and Nickel defenses are taking shape. Myles Jack and Joe Schobert will continue to man the middle for a second straight season, with Dakota Allen joining them when a third linebacker is called upon. Shaq Griffin, Sidney Jones, Rayshawn Jenkins and Josh Jones comprise the secondary -- although Jarrod Wilson was absent and CJ Henderson remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. 

The interesting note is in the trenches. In Nickel, it's Dawuane Smoot, not 2020 first-rounder K'Lavon Chaisson, that lines up alongside Josh Allen, Malcolm Brown and Roy Robertson-Harris. In Base, it is Chaisson with Allen, Robertson-Harris, Brown, and second-year defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton. 

- In addition to catching a touchdown for a third-straight day in team drills, rookie tight end Luke Farrell showed tremendous blocking (vs. D.J. Daniel) on a QB keeper by Lawrence.

- Speaking of tight ends: second-year tight end Ben Ellefson got a ton of run with the first team again on Saturday. Chris Manhertz, a free agent signee this off-season, has gotten the most first-team snaps, especially with O'Shaughnessy sidelined. But Ellefson has been second in that category.

The Jaguars are off Sunday before returning to the practice field Monday morning for a practice closed to the public. It will be their final day in helmets & spiders before donning pads for the first time on Tuesday. 

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Want to sound off? Sports Anchor/Reporter Mia O'Brien can be reached at @MiaOBrienTV and mobrien1@firstcoastnews.com