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Jaguars Training Camp, Day 11: 5 Observations As Starters Prepare for Browns

The Jaguars are set to play most of their starters against the Browns on Friday, making for a tune-up practice during Wednesday's training camp practice.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to show off the firs glimpse of what their offense might look like this Friday when the Cleveland Browns visit for a preseason bout at TIAA Bank Field. 

“This week I’m going to let the starters play. Get their feet wet in this football game, a couple series. Nothing too crazy, nothing too long, just want to get them a feel of the game, get them working in game situations," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said on Wednesday.

But first, the Jaguars needed one more practice ahead of Cleveland to tune things up and prepare for what is set to be a meaningful showing from key plays. 

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

Starting offense looks crisp as Jaguars prepare to play key players in Friday's preseason game

The tale of the Jaguars' training camp so far has been the constant back-and-forth between the offense and defense ... until the red-zone. The offense and defense have traded punches and big plays all of camp, but the defense has otherwise been able to dominate the Jaguars' offense in the red-zone and near the goal-line. 

"Usually the defense is ahead. They should be," Pederson said on Wednesday. :Offense, there’s a lot more timing involved with the five offensive lineman, and the running backs, and making sure pad levels are on the same angle that the offensive line is in, the quarterback’s eyes, the timing, the details around, there’s just more timing with offense. So, this time of camp and probably early in the season usually, defenses may have a little advantage.”

That changed on Wednesday, though, as the Jaguars began to look crisp and efficient in their preparation for the Cleveland Browns on Friday. With most of the team's key starters set to play against the Browns, including Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and Zay Jones, the offense stood out both against the starting defense and in key situations on Wednesday. 

Lawrence finished the practice with eight touchdowns in between team drills and seven-on-seven work (two to Dan Arnold one to Marvin Jones, one to Marvin Hall, one to Evan Engram , one to Zay Jones, one to Laquon Treadwell, and one to Etienne), with another day of zero interceptions. 

There were some misses and some big plays made by the defense, such as a nice Tyson Campbell pass breakup at the end of practice against Treadwell, but it was ultimately a productive da from the offense that saw few balls hit the ground and even fewer come in harm's way.

Updating the wide receiver depth as small injuries pile up 

The Jaguars wide receiver depth is going to be tested in a big way on Friday. The Jaguars had two key pieces missing practice, with Christian Kirk and Laviska Shenault both working to the side. Kirk rolled his ankle on Monday and spent the practice working to the side and doing the occasional agility drill, while Shenault spent most of the day to the side before somewhat participating in a special teams walkthrough. 

With the Jaguars' top two slot receivers out during Wednesday's practice, the Jaguars had to face the question of their receiver depth and look for someone to step up. Jeff Cotton Jr., Laquon Treadwell, Marvin Hall, and Jamal Agnew all had reps with the first-team offense, with Treadwell receiving a lot of attention from Lawrence in terms of target volume when he was on the field. 

Receivers who ran with the second-team offense included Tim Jones, Lujuan Winninham, Willie Johnson, and Kevin Austin Jr., which suggests the Jaguars have seen some separation for their final wide receiver spot. It looks like it could be down to Cotton and Treadwell, with Zay Jones and Agnew giving the Jaguars' slot potential behind Kirk and Shenault. 

How the Jaguars trot out their receiver room on Friday will be telling. The key thing will be which receiver gets reps first between Treadwell and Cotton, but also which receiver sees the most passes his way from Lawrence. That player will have the leg up on the final receiver spot.

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Still, it was concerning to see the Jaguars' offense limited to role players when faced with just a few injuries. If the Jaguars ever see Kirk miss time during the regular season, there could be issues.

Kicker battle check-in 

The kicker battle continues to be an up and down experience for the Jaguars. Each kicker went 7-of-9 on Wendesday, with Elliott Fry taking the first reps each time and making each of his first five field goals while Ryan Santoso started off 4-of-5. To say neither kicker has taken the job and ran with it would be an understatement as the two continue to look in lockstep through another day of practice.

As practice progressed, the Jaguars sent their kickers out four more times each to give them a chance to kick in team situations, including a two-minute drill at the end. Fry missed his final two kicks, with one kick coming up a yard short despite being right down the middle, while Santoso missed his final attempt left on a 56-yard try.

The Jaguars will get their next close look at the kicker situation on Friday. Fry should be expected to be the first kicker to hit the field when the Jaguars' special teams unit steps onto the field against the Browns, but that may not be worth reading into all too much.

"The first game we did every other kick because I was trying to get them evenly -- I was scared we would get -- one guy got four kicks and the other guy got one and not a true evaluation. This week we are going to switch up the order because they are both doing so well, let’s see what that looks like," Jaguars special teams coordinator Heath Farwell said on Monday. 

"We'll go every other kick again this week and see what that looks like. I may reevaluate this next week depending on, it's one guy getting extra points, are we getting field goals, I may have to adjust on the fly but that's the plan for the week is see where they are at, one for one, see what those kicks look like as well as kickoffs.

Devin Lloyd gets closer to his debut

The Jaguars are getting closer and closer to seeing first-round linebacker Devin Lloyd on the field. It is clear Lloyd won't play against the Browns on Friday, but the No. 27 overall pick looks like he is as close to practicing as a full participant as he has been all camp after a hamstring injury sidelined him before the first day.

“Not a timeline specifically, but a range. I’m hoping to get through this week and hoping to get him on the grass next week, but he’s doing well," Pederson said. "You’re seeing him in individual drills now, which is a good sign that he’ll be back out there into full contact stuff maybe next week.”

Lloyd again went through individual drills on Wednesday, taking reps with the rest of the linebackers along inside linebackers coach Tony Gilbert. Lloyd hasn't taken part in team drills or full-contact drills to this point, but he is moving around well and doesn't look like he is far away from being 100%. 

Until Lloyd returns, the Jaguars are likely going to keep giving Chad Muma and Shaquille Quarterman both looks at inside linebacker next to Foyesade Oluokun. Still, a return for Lloyd next week would give him just under a month to prepare for Week 1, which should be enough time.

Play of the day 

There weren't too many eye-popping plays on Wednesday due to the nature and structure of the practice, but there were a few impressive individual efforts. One Zay Jones deep catch with Rayshawn Jenkins close in coverage deserves consideration, but we instead opt to give the nod to Jeff Cotton Jr. 

With the first-team defense facing the second-team offense, Cotton was lined up in a tough red-zone battle with Shaquill Griffin. Cotton was able to use his frame to get some separation, though, getting open enough to catch an impressive touchdown in the corner of the end-zone from C.J. Beathard. Griffin was flagged on the play for interference, too, showing how difficult of a catch it was for Cotton.

Other notes

  • It will be important to see how C.J. Beathard plays on Friday after the practice he had on Wednesday. He was spraying the ball in terms of accuracy by the end of the day, missing serval short throws and just seeming off all day from a timing perspective.
  • Evan Engram made some of the best catches of the day, catching a pass from Lawrence in full-stride that was behind him while also making a tough catch in the middle of field with Rayshawn Jenkins draped over him. Engram has picked up his game a lot since some drops early on in camp.
  • Xavier Crawford keeps looking like some quality cornerback depth for the Jaguars. He has mostly played in the slot, but he gave a host of receivers struggles and made two nice pass breakups in the red-zone. 
  • James Robinson again took team reps during the air period, which is just the starting offense running plays against no defense. He alternated carries with Travis Etienne and looked smooth cutting and exploding. 
  • Josh Allen continues to have a strong camp. He had two would-be sacks during the team period, consistently putting pressure on both Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Beathard. 
  • Foley Fatukasi stands out in a big way for the Jaguars' defense. Whether against the run or pass, he has been a ticking time bomb in the middle of the line of scrimmage and the quality of front-seven play noticeable drops off when he isn't on the field. 
  • Shaquill Griffin missed just two early team period plays for a non-injury reason, and the first cornerback on the field to replace him was Chris Claybrooks. Perhaps it was because Tre Herndon was already on the field as the nickel back, but Claybrooks may be the primary backup on the outside. 
  • Lujuan Winningham made another impressive catch, pulling in a pass on a diving effort with outstretched arms during the team period. 
  • Coy Cronk got reps at backup right tackle with the second-team offense because backup tackle Badara Traore missed practice with an injury, with Will Richardson at left tackle. The loser of the right tackle battle will obviously be the primary backup tackle, but this does show the depth issues the Jaguars could face at tackle if injuries stack up. Pederson said on Wednesday that Jawaan Taylor and Walker Little would rotate on Friday.
  • Chad Muma had one of the best blitz reps of camp, bowling over rookie center Luke Fortner for a quick sack of Lawrence.
  • The Jaguars have not seemed to favor any of their running backs in goal line work. Travis Etienne has obviously been a big part of the passing game, but Snoop Conner and Ryquell Armstead have gotten reps with the starting offense near the goal-line, too. It looks like this is where a rotation may come into play the most.
  • Zay Jones has been on a roll. If Andre Cisco has been the defensive player most on fire recently, then Jones has been his counterpart.
  • The Jaguars will have another big day of hitting next week. Just like on Sunday, the Jaguars will go live this upcoming Monday. “My philosophy is have two live-type days in training camp. This past week to do it, then I’ll do one more next week, and really that’s it from a live standpoint. The pads are on, it’s all about fundamentals and working the details and being in position to make the tackle," Pederson said. "Let the ball carrier, receiver, whoever it is finish their runs even when tapped off by a defender. Offensive guys need to feel the contact as well as the defensive guys."
  • A few other Jaguars who won't play on Friday: James Robinson, Jamal Agnew. Agnew was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.