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Jaguars Training Camp, Day 10: Zay Jones, Christian Kirk Steal the Show

The Jaguars saw their two free-agent wideouts have their best days of camp on Monday, a good sign for a developing offense.

A day after the Jacksonville Jaguars had one of the most physical practices the franchise has seen in years, the Jaguars had another eventful training camp practice as several free-agent additions stood out on Day 10.

For the second day in a row, there was hitting, big plays and a young team that came closer to being ready for Week 1.

"I think any time you go live and you go live in practice, it's going to be that type of practice. You get out there and guys are going to compete and they are doing a great job of getting out there and working hard and making each other better," Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said on Tuesday before practice. 

"The physicality that's what you expect, offense giving us good looks and we are trying to do the same thing for them."

So, what all did we see at Monday's practice at Episcopal School of Jacksonville Knight Campus? We break it down below.

Zay Jones and Christian Kirk have standout days

There are few free agents the Jaguars are hoping have a bigger impact in 2022 than wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. The Jaguars signed each in March with hopes of the veteran duo providing safe and reliable targets for Trevor Lawrence from Day 1, with a limited learning curve thanks to the experience of each. For the first nine days of camp, each made their fair share of plays, but it was hard to say either had a stellar showing. That changed on Monday, though, as Kirk and Jones were the stars of Day 10.

Kirk missed the final 20 minutes of practice after rolling his ankle in the end-zone during team drills, leading to him limping off the field with a trainer before rejoining the team on the sidelines. Kirk didn't return to practice, but the injury is insignificant. But before he left the field, Kirk was one of the toughest players for any defender to cover. 

Kirk was one of Lawrence's favorite targets in team drills, at one point seeing four targets in a five-throw span. He lined up in multiple spots on the field, finding success against Shaquill Griffin, Tyson Campbell, Tre Herndon and the Jaguars' safeties as he made impressive grabs and proved to be a tough cover in space. Kirk scored  a long touchdown in 7-on-7 drills and had one of the best catches of the days with deep score over Tre Herndon in one-on-ones. 

Kirk and Lawrence simply looked completely in sync on Monday. Kirk is the best pure separator the Jaguars have on offense and he played like it against the best cornerbacks the Jaguars have to offer, both in team drills and in one-on-one matchups. 

As for Jones, he had his best practice as a Jaguar and made at least one big play in each period. He won every one-on-one he had, including beating Darious Williams and giving rookie cornerback Gregory Junior a welcome to the NFL moment by easily beating him to get open and then forcing him to chase him by running in a zig-zag formation after the catch. 

Jones didn't make any downfield grabs on vertical routes, but he was consistently getting open and getting solid yards after the catch on Monday. He caught everything thrown to him and legitimately looked like the hot hand of the offense who couldn't miss, ending his day with an impressive touchdown grab over Tre Herndon in 7-on-7. Jones simply did everything at a high level on Monday, a great sign for the Jaguars. 

While the Jaguars still have some questions left unanswered about their wide receiver unit, it was an encouraging sign to see Kirk and Jones have their best practices of camp as we get even closer to Week 1. Now is when you would hope to see them hit their stride after having some time with Lawrence and the offensive system, and they began to do just that on Monday.

James Robinson takes an important step

While James Robinson didn't take any part in full-speed team drills with the rest of the offense and defense, he did take an important and noticeable step on Monday. For the first time in camp, Robinson took team reps with the Jaguars' first-team offense against air, catching a pass and taking a handoff from Trevor Lawrence in an important step. 

Robinson, who has been taking part in individual drills with the running backs for a few practices now, hadn't taken a single team rep in any capacity until today. And while he didn't go against the defense like Travis Etienne, Snoop Conner, Ryquell Armstead and the other running backs, Monday did show he is closer than ever to being back on the field.

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What will the Jaguars offense look like when Robinson returns? That is to be determined, but it stands to reason that Robinson would help the Jaguars greatly in the red-zone and goal-line situations, two areas they have struggled in throughout camp. 

"We have a vision for what we hope it is. You kind of always envision what you're going to do when everybody's healthy but until we get to that point and we see everybody in there and everybody is available on game day, then you kind of just have to go with what you have in that particular availability for that game," Jaguars offensive coordinator Pres Taylor said on Monday.

:Until James gets fully cleared, that's something we'll continue to do. The best is to work through the process we believe it's going to be but you kind of have to work through the pieces to get to that point as well."

Walker Little and Jawaan Taylor trade reps at right tackle, while Santoso begins to pull ahead in kicker battle

The Jaguars are still looking for their answer at kicker after one preseason game, while the battle at right tackle appears to be heating up in a big way. These are the two most important battles on the roster, so it is important to note how close each comes to finality as camp progresses, and on Monday we saw big steps take place. 

Jawaan Taylor returned to practice after a hamstring injury forced him to miss time, giving him a chance to stake his own claim to the right tackle spot. Considering this was his first full padded practice, it was important for the Jaguars to see him against the same players and same looks as Walker Little. 

The Jaguars rotated both Little and Taylor with the first-team offense on Monday, with each taking roughly 50% of the reps. After the two rotated much less frequently earlier in camp, it was significant to see them more less trade off every other snap on Monday, making it clear the Jaguars are still looking for one of the tackles to pull away with the job. 

As for the kicker position, the Jaguars are not yet at a place where they are getting consistent results, but they are seeing at least one kicker begin to distance himself. Ryan Santoso had a slightly better day than Elliott Fry on Monday, making 5-of-6 field goals compared to Fry making 4-of-6. Santoso nailed a 50-yard attempt down the middle after Fry missed his just barely right, giving Santoso a bump heading into the rest of the week.

"So right now those guys, we like where they’re at. You guys see a couple kicks but we are charting them on the other side of the field, all practice. And so we have a really good idea of where they are at, the things we need to work on, what we can see us doing this season," Jaguars special team coordinator Heath Farwell said before practice. 

:So right now, it's a dead heat. They are both doing a good job, and I believe the guys in this camp can win the job but it's up to them what they do with these next practices/preseason game, is going to determine that."

Andre Cisco continues strong camp

It is time to start acknowledging the fact that Andre Cisco may be more than just one of the Jaguars most exciting young players. Cisco is on a hot streak right now that doesn't appear to be slowing down, a good sign for his development as he keeps taking steps toward being a consistent playmaker. 

After a terrific outing in the Hall of Fame game and during Sunday's practice, Cisco had another terrific practice on Monday. Cisco was terrific in one-on-ones, having good reps against Chris Manhertz and Evan Engram, including one play where he broke on the ball to knock it out of Engram's hands on what should have been a big gain. 

Cisco also stood out in team drills, knocking away a pass meant for Jeff Cotton and stopping a Jamal Agnew catch near the line of scrimmage. He held up in his own when split out wide with tight ends and running backs, always ending up in the right place in coverage and looking like a magnet for the football. Cisco has lived up to his billing as a playmaker over the last week.

"You look at the game, we had a run that popped out and he was able to get a guy down, nice tackle. You see that over and over but the main thing from him is like you talked about, him being able to impact the game by his range in the secondary, he can cover us sideline to sideline and he's a big plus for us back there," Caldwell said about Cisco.

Play of the day

Zay Jones' touchdown against Herndon was a great play. There are several on here that deserve attention, but this was an excellent play from top to bottom. Lawrence put a good ball in stride to Jones near the sideline to give only him a chance to catch it, while Jones did a terrific job of keeping both feet in bounds and getting open at the end of his route.

Other notes

  • The Jaguars continue to struggle in the red-zone. The starting defense was 4-of-4 against the offense in red-zone situations on Monday, including a Tyson Campbell tackle of Jamal Agnew at the one-yard line to prevent a score. 
  • Speaking of Agnew, there may not have been a better player in one-on-ones. He was a tough cover for every single cornerback, beating them with his quickness and ability to get vertical. He also stretched out and dove to catch a C.J. Beathard pass, a good sign for him after his hip injury.
  • Israel Antwine continues to standout among the interior defensive linemen. Antwine got consistent push in team drills and one-on-ones, which is just a few days after he had a sack and two tackles for loss against the Raiders. 
  • Jeff Cotton Jr. was a tough cover for rookie cornerback Montaric Brown in one-on-ones, beating him deep for a touchdown after leaving him behind with his speed. Cotton saw some first-team reps on Monday, too. 
  • Travis Etienne and Foyesade Oluokun had a terrific back-and-forth in one-on-ones. Oluokun didn't bite on Etienne's route on one play, offering suffocating coverage to prevent a catch. On the next rep, Etienne was able to burst past him and catch a deep touchdown.
  • Shaquill Griffin and Tyson Campbell each had some standout pass breakups on Monday. Griffin made two great plays against Marvin Jones, while Campbell provided the best coverage on Kirk in one-on-ones of any of the defensive backs.