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Jaguars Notebook: 5 Observations on OTA No. 4

What did we see during Jacksonville's practice on Tuesday?

The Jacksonville Jaguars put in another key day of work on Tuesday, turning in the fourth organized team activity practice of the offseason. 

With the rain coming down during the early half of the day, the Jaguars went to their indoor practice facility to get key reps that will set the tone for the 2022 season, carrying over from last week's practices.

"It was a good week for us. Again, it was the first time really since that first minicamp several weeks ago, to be out there. The way I have it set up, we’re working some first and second downs, some third downs, some red zone stuff throughout the course of the week, so we’re throwing a lot at the guys," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday. 

"Right now, the guys have really handled the information. They’ve taken it from the classroom to the practice field and that’s really what we want to see right now. You can’t see physicality and all that kind of stuff, tackling and all that yet, but the guys are moving in the right way. They’re practicing fast, they’re protecting each other, and that’s what we want to see and that’s what I want to see this time of year.”

But what did we see from the Jaguars at OTA No. 4 and what could it all mean moving forward? We break it down below.

Jaguars play musical chairs at offensive tackle, preparing for the swing tackle and right tackle battles

Perhaps the most important position battle the Jaguars are facing entering training camp is at right tackle, and the Jaguars made sure to add to that intrigue on Tuesday. It is anyone's guess whether fourth-year tackle Jawaan Taylor will get the nod or if 2021 second-round tackle Walker Little wins the gig after starting three games at left tackle last year. Each player got important reps that will play a part -- no matter how small -- in Jacksonville's evaluation. 

With veteran left tackle Cam Robinson not at practice due to travel issues, the Jaguars saw both Taylor and Little take reps at right and left tackle on Tuesday. Whoever doesn't start at right tackle will clearly be the team's swing tackle, but the fact Taylor got any reps at left tackle shows how legit the competition is. For reference, this is my fourth year covering the Jaguars and it was the first time I have seen Taylor at left tackle for an extended period, even in an offseason practice.

Trevor Lawrence shows improvement compared to this time last year

I would advise on tapping the brakes on any hype a quarterback gets in May or June. While live reps at all are important, this is just in helmets and shorts and the real test is further down the road. With this in mind, we do have an entire rookie offseason to compare Trevor Lawrence's progress with, so we can make a slight judgment on his trajectory, even if it is a tad benign. So while nobody should cast MVP votes for him, it is still at the least encouraging to see Lawrence has taken a step forward compared to what he showed at this time last year.

Lawrence consistently showed the rare arm talent as a rookie that made him a generational talent. It showed up multiple times in every offseason and training camp practice. But the No. 1 overall pick had to get his feet wet in an NFL system and testing NFL windows. Now, Lawrence looks more decisive and sure of himself when it comes to delivering the ball, especially in tight windows. Lawrence still has to answer plenty of challenges, but today's OTA showed an improved quarterback.

Travis Etienne looks like his old self

Other than Lawrence, you can make the argument that no player on the roster needed a good offseason as much as Travis Etienne. The former No. 25 overall pick wasn't able to display his talent as a rookie after a Lisfranc injury in the second preseason game forced him into surgery and rehab, but he was cleared for full practice reps before the start of OTAs. Any concerns about Etienne not looking explosive after the serious injury can die down for now, with Etienne legitimately looking like his old self from an explosiveness standpoint on Tuesday.

Etienne's explosion and ability to quickly cut and make breaks stood out during pass-catching drills. He ran one drag route and extended for a catch from Lawrence that showed he still has the best pure speed and home-run ability before and after the catch of any player on the offense. He still has to prove himself like any other player returning from injury, but he looks like the Etienne the Jaguars drafted.

Andre Cisco's role is expanding while Laviska Shenault's is changing

Two of the most exciting young players on the Jaguars' roster appear to be on different trajectories. For 2021 third-rounder Andre Cisco, it looks like the talented and rangy safety has a chance to finally break into the starting lineup, even if he should have been in it last year. After a year in which he spent more time on special teams than on defense, Cisco was one of the first two names (along with Rayshawn Jenkins) who Pederson mentioned at safety ahead of practice Then during practice, Cisco got a big number of key reps and showed off his communication ability. 

As for 2020 second-rounder Laviska Shenault, it looked clear during Tuesday's practice that he is entering a much different situation than last season. Shenault will have to earn snaps on offense this season (and a good practice on Tuesday should help in that regard), but there is a pecking order with at least three wideouts ahead of him. This has meant Shenault becoming a candidate at returner, where the Jaguars are exploring all options while Jamal Agnew still doesn't practice following his hip injury. This reads more like a case of the Jaguars having a lot of bodies at receiver and are looking for any way to get some production out of Shenault, but it is certainly a new role for him.

Individual plays that stood out 

It needs to always be kept in mind when reading these reports that these are May practices with no true contact. There are important, but no play in OTAs determines the level of a team's success. With that in mind, here are some individual plays that stood out to me on Tuesday.

  • Zay Jones made a pair of nice catches. He tracked one nicely-placed deep ball from Lawrence on air before coming up big on an out-breaking route near the sideline. Lawrence delivered a good ball and Jones made sure his trust paid off, staying in bounds and catching it with good coverage from Chris Claybrooks.
  • Lawrence loves the seam throw. It is arguably the throw he was best at as a rookie and he showed it off again on Tuesday, ripping an impressive throw in a tight window to Dan Arnold.
  • Devin Lloyd is going to make a big impact near the line of scrimmage. He was a key piece of Utah's pass defense and showed up in that regard on Tuesday, using his length to deflect a Lawrence pass over the middle. 
  • Shenault made two nice catches, including the best catch of the day -- a vertical route near the sideline where he tracked the ball, stacked Gregory Junior in coverage and won the ball in the air. It was a good pass from CJ Beathard and an even better catch. Shenault also brought in a pass that was behind him from Lawrence earlier in the practice. 
  • Xavier Crawford made a nice play in coverage to intercept Beathard, sending the entire defensive side of the field into a frenzy. He showed really good eyes and ball skills. Rookie cornerback Gregory Junior nearly had a pick-six on Jake Luton on the next play on a short underneath pass but just barely dropped it.