Ranking the top storylines from the first week of Jaguars training camp
The Jacksonville Jaguars training camp kicked off last week with plenty of buzz surrounding the team.
It’s been only a week into training camp, the pads finally came on Sunday, and much will change from now until the 53-man roster is finalized. But that does not mean we can’t get excited from what we’ve heard. Why else are we here if we’re not going to be thrilled that football is back?!
The Jags and Las Vegas Raiders open the preseason with the Hall of Fame game on Thursday night. We won’t see any of the 1s but will see how the depth and young players look against live competition. There’s been a lot of terrific insight from the Jacksonville beat writers, and here are the best storylines from the opening week of the Jaguars training camp.
7. WHAT A DIFFERENCE THE PADS MAKE
Sunday was the first full practice with pads. By all accounts, it was a rough day for the offense. The defense delivered the punishment, which is great to hear, but the offense wasn’t ready.
When it comes to training camp, you must find a balance of tempering expectations. You never want to get too high or too low. Training camp news tends to bring out these extremes, extraordinary or awfulness, with little in between.
The best way to parse training camp and preseason isn’t everything has to be perfect but improvement and resiliency. Failure is the quickest way to success, and when one unit has a down day, how do they bounce back tomorrow? That’s what I want to see the most from the Jags in training camp, that toughness that comes with resiliency. The offense started camp on fire. Then the defense pushed back. Now it’s the offense’s turn to do the same.
6. O-LINE BATTLE
Jag fans will keep an eye on how the offensive line shakes out all through camp and preseason. (Keep 16’s jersey clean!) And like we covered in the intro, it’s only been one day of pads and it’s hard to gauge how things will shake up in the trenches.
However, we did see who the 1s are to open the Jaguars training camp: RT Jawann Taylor, RG Brandon Scherff, C Luke Fortner, LG Tyler Shatley and LT Cam Robinson.
Fortner, the rookie, is the big surprise in the group. Fortner was expected to eventually take over the starting role but opening camp as the starter is terrific news. It’s still a long journey until he’s named the official starter, but this bodes well for the Jags and gives the team more flexibility for that unit.
Robinson, Scherff and Shatley were locked in starters, even though I thought Shatley would play center.
Some Jags fans were upset with Taylor being in the mix, but it’s worth giving him a shot. He could improve with better coaching and an NFL scheme. I get the frustration with Taylor. It is Year 4 for him, and this could be the player he is. But, he’s also not been placed in situations to succeed. His first two seasons were those weird years with Doug Marrone. His next coach was Urban Meyer. Let’s see if he can thrive with better coaching under Doug Pederson and his staff.
Walker Little, everyone’s preferred RT starter, will undoubtedly push Taylor for that starting spot. He’s already filled in well for Taylor who picked up an injury late last week. Whoever wins the RT job, it’s a win-win for the Jags as it gives them more depth.
5. THE DEFENSE HAS SOME BITE
One more time for the back, it’s been one day in pads, and things haven’t ratcheted up to full speed. Yet, after getting beat up on the first few days, the Jags’ defense dominated the Jags’ offense on Day 4 and the first day of pads.
The secondary started camp strong with guys making plays here and there. Tre Herndon has been balling. Tyson Campbell is looking like a shutdown corner. Shaquill Griffin is returning to form. Rookie and seventh-round draft pick Montaric Brown is having a hell of a camp and impressing everyone.
For all that, the Jags’ offense was still beating up on the defense.
Then Day 4 of camp rolled around, and the defense turned it on the offense. They got their first pick on Trevor Lawrence off a tipped ball. They held firm in the red zone. All three levels of the defense worked together to make it a miserable day for the offense.
I’ll let Zay Jones explain the rest.
Zay Jones with a pretty honest assessment on how the #Jaguasrs defense performed in red zone team drills.
Suffocating coverage by DBs and great positioning by LBs all day. #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/ufH3IFtoMy
— Andrew Badillo (@andrewbadillo99) July 28, 2022
4. LAWRENCE IS LOOKING THE PART
Lawrence has come into camp on a mission. That mission, remind everyone why he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2021.
After everything that happened last season with people doubting his ability, talking up Mac Jones like Jones was the best QB in this class, or even doubt from a teammate. It all looks to have lit a fire under the mild-mannered Lawrence. There’s more of an edge to him, and I love it.
It wasn’t so much that Lawrence completed every pass on Day 2 of camp but the placement on his throws that wowed everyone. That theme of ball placement by Lawrence has carried throughout camp. Even when the defense got the better of the offense on Day 4, he eyebrow-raising throws.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year 🎶@Trevorlawrencee -> @ckirk@Dream_Finders | #DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/YLwH592DsP
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) August 1, 2022
Lawrence’s demeanor and performance in camp are exactly what you want from a franchise QB.
3. ETIENNE’S BIG-PLAY POTENTIAL
Through the first week of practice, Travis Etienne has stolen the show. He’s been the top player for nearly every Jacksonville beat writer. He’s ripped off big plays and looks like he’s playing at a different speed.
For the Jags, it cannot be understated how important this is. Look at every top-tier offense in the league. They all have dudes who need just a smidge of space to hang six on the board. The Jags need weapons, and Etienne could be the best of them all.
The noise around Etienne is getting so loud that he’s skyrocketing up fantasy draft boards. He went from being a sixth-or seventh-round steal to having an APD in the 40s. Etienne could deliver on most of his season-long props too.
Proving that he could do it all, Etienne even lobbed a question to his QB during Trevor Lawrence’s press conference.
“Trevor, how does it feel to have your guy Etienne back?“
— Travis Etienne, Florida Daily News 😂 pic.twitter.com/mD1g1gDAgN
— Mia O'Brien (@MiaOBrienTV) July 25, 2022
2. ANOTHER REMINDER OF HOW BAD URBAN MEYER WAS
I could watch Jags players throwing shade at Urban Meyer on a loop for eternity. Josh Allen speaking about Meyer is my favorite sound bite from this first week. It’s like Thanos dropping an infinity stone into the infinity gauntlet. It’s energizing.
The contrast between Pederson and Meyer is stark. Last year, you got a sense that things were off. Whether that was coming from the players, beat writers or other NFL media people talking about the Jags. At first, it was, “Oh, this is Meyer’s first year. Let him figure out the learning curve.” But with the advantage of hindsight, Meyer was bad and not built for the highest form of football.
As a fan, it’s refreshing to see an actual NFL camp and an actual culture being built. Gone are the dumbass “winner and loser drills” and the games Meyer loved to play, like Lawrence not taking every first-team rep.
Pederson and his staff have brought a level of professionalism that contributes to building a thriving, winning culture. It also helps when you know your roster and can speak about what each player brings to the table. The Jags players are engaged and having fun. Something we didn’t see much of last training camp and preseason.
Excitement and enthusiasm are coming from the Jaguars training camp. A sense that everyone is working together to turn this franchise into a winning one.
1. NO PUP LIST
Not a single Jag was placed on the PUP list to start camp.
That is damn good news.
Now, that doesn’t mean players won’t eventually go on the PUP list. Yet, it suggests that RB James Robinson, DB Darius Williams and PR/KR/WR Jamal Agnew are killing it with their rehab. It doesn’t mean they’ll be ready for Week 1, but at least they won’t miss the season’s first four games.
Agnew and Robinson are the most surprising because of the nature of their injuries. Agnew had a bad hip injury with some ligament damage, and Robinson tore his Achilles late last season. Both are key players for this season. The sooner they return to 100 percent, the better for the team.
Robinson’s return to the backfield gives the Jags another weapon on that side of the ball. With him and Travis Etienne back there, they could form a formidable RB duo. Agnew’s return prowess was on display last season, but he also made strides as a receiver. His speed and elusiveness could be another weapon for the Jags offense.
All in all, it was a great opening week at the Jaguars training camp.
For More Great Football Content
Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE