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Top-Five Jaguars from Wednesday's Training Camp practice

Who should you buy stock in before Saturday's preseason opener? Today's News & Notes looks at five guys who could shine against the Browns
Credit: AP
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass to tight end James O'Shaughnessy (80) during NFL football practice, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Same drill as Tuesday -- only it's even more pressing now, with the Jaguars' preseason opener just three days away.

Here's our five stand-out's from Wednesday's practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex at TIAA Bank Field, in no particular order:

1. James O'Shaughnessy

After a sprained ankle early on in Training Camp forced him to miss more than a handful of practices, the veteran O'Shaughnessy had arguably his best practice of Camp. He had an eye-popping seven catches and two touchdowns, easily his most of Camp. Both touchdowns came courtesy of Trevor Lawrence. The first was one of the most acrobatic plays I've seen O'Shaughnessy make in three years. He tip-toed the end-line and safely cradled the ball in his hands in front of him -- without his body to use as a backboard -- while avoiding safety Andre Cisco, who was stuck to him like glue. Considering O'Shaughnessy had three drops over the weekend, it was an awesome sight to see for the Jaguars' primary, pass catching tight end. And don't forget: he tore his ACL in October 2019. As much as players return to the field quicker following ACL surgery than they did ten years ago, typically, they are not at full strength until a full-year later -- as the Jaguars have seen with Cam Robinson over the past two years. 

O'Shaughnessy's second touchdown was an underneath route at the goal line, also during Red Zone drills. This "security blanket" route will be key for the rookie Lawrence's development. It also got defensive backs coach Chris Ash fired up, as he shouted quite a few expletives at safety Brandon Rusnak and the defensive backs who were in on the play and allowed O'Shaughnessy to execute the route with ease.

2. Tyson Campbell

As I've previously written about: Campbell is the rare rookie that blended in without pads and has stood-out since donning them. His speed and athleticism -- a big reason why the Jaguars were so high on him -- is clear. His hips are as fluid as anyone on this team. That was abundantly clear during Special Teams individual drills. When required to practice quick hip turns while backpedaling, no one looked as smooth as Campbell.

Campbell saw his first significant run with the first-team defense Wednesday, almost exclusively at the outside cornerback position. According to defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, Campbell has been cross training at outside and nickel corner. For what it's worth: Campbell was opposite Shaq Griffin for half the time and opposite CJ Henderson for the other half of the time. Up until now, it's been almost exclusively Griffin and veteran Sidney Jones manning those two spots. 

"We have to make sure those guys [playing in Saturday's game] are prepared. We also have to make sure the guys that aren't going to play as much also get work [in practice]. Make sure they don't have four days off. I think that's important having balance there," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell explained. 

In his first period with the first-team defense, Campbell showed an eagerness to make a play. As soon as a would-be catch fell out of Travis Etienne's hands, Campbell was the first man to the ball and was immediately taking it the other way -- even though the play had been called dead. Campbell is five inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than wide receiver Collin Johnson, and yet he stuck to him like glue for most of team drills. He prevented Johnson from laying out for a would-be touchdown late in practice. 

Campbell is not going to "wow" with interception numbers. He's just quietly consistent and continues to stack good days on top of each other. 

3. Tavon Austin

Austin got off the plane in Jacksonville Friday night and was literally catching three of the first four passes thrown on Saturday. That production has only continued in the days that have followed. The latest signee had four catches and two touchdowns on Wednesday, one each from Gardner Minshew and Lawrence. 

"Tavon's had a nice two days that he's been here," Bevell said. "I think it's good for him that he is a veteran. So he's been in some different offenses, so some of the stuff came a little bit easier for him... so he's been able to stand-out."

Austin's first touchdown from Minshew was dropped right into the "bucket" and was a great throw from the third-year quarterback. Lawrence's touchdown to Austin was also a great throw, but it forced Austin to showcase elite footwork in ensuring he got two feet in the end-zone.

As we saw in Sunday's scrimmage: don't be surprised to see Austin take some hand-off's, too. Ditto to wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew. The Jaguars continue to stockpile gadget players. 

4. Jordan Smith / Aaron Patrick

I originally just had Patrick here, but both of these players impacted practice similarly Wednesday and, with the Jaguars probably not running Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson for a full 60 minutes Saturday, are both going to get significant rep's.

If Tyson Campbell has the most fluid hips on this roster, the 6'4'', 240 lb Patrick may be second. He, too, showed up in Special Teams individual drills with a quick first step. The second-year player out of Eastern Kentucky had a would-be sack of Jake Luton midway through practice and has been able to provide consistent pressure throughout Camp. Like Smith, he's a bit lankier, but unlike Smith, he's filled into his frame. The Jaguars have a ton of pass rushers on this roster, but the Baltimore Ravens defense Joe Cullen has brought to Jacksonville demands that sort of depth.

Smith was drafted out of UAB with the thought that he would not be a Day One starter. That is going to be the case. But he, too, continues to flash in team drills. If defensive players were allowed to touch the quarterback, he would've torched Trevor Lawrence on a quarterback keeper in Red Zone drills. He picked up a sack on Tuesday, too. The coaches are definitely demanding a lot out of Smith -- his name is seemingly always the first one Cullen and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi are yelling each practice -- but that's because, once again: they need him. They are going to need him for depth down the line.  

5. Trevor Lawrence

And you thought we wouldn't discuss No. 16 on this fine Wednesday!

We had Lawrence charted as 16-of-20 with four touchdowns. That included a 10-of-10 stretch between the first and final team periods of practice. 

"You're going up against the Number One pick -- who doesn't look like the Number One pick," Chaisson smiled after practice. "He looks like a pro already."

The part that stood out to me the most: Lawrence looks so much more comfortable in Red Zone drills than he did even two weeks ago. He did go 1-of-3 in the two-minute drill period at the end of practice, but he was running with the third-team offensive line. Tevin Jones almost made the catch of the day on one of those incompletions, nearly hauling in a shoestring catch. And Lawrence's [should've been] fourth-down conversion up the seam to Tim Tebow was one of the prettiest throws he made all day, but was ruled incomplete. 

"Trevor's done well. There were two days he had in there where we moved him back a little bit, and I think he responded," Bevell added. "Like I've told you guys: he's super into it. It's super important to him... the last couple of days -- probably the last four -- you can start to see him make that climb again."

But will we see Lawrence in Saturday's preseason opener? Bevell was non-committal, saying the coaching staff was meeting Wednesday afternoon to decide that. 

"We want to continue to let these guys compete out here in practice, and today was one of those days."

The Jaguars are back on the practice field Thursday morning, before an off day Friday ahead of Saturday's opener against the Browns. 

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

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