Skip to main content

Jaguars Training Camp, Day 4: Defense Bests Lawrence and Offense in Red-Zone

The Jaguars had an eventful practice on Thursday, pitting the offense and defense against each other in a key red-zone day. So, what did we see?

Thursday was the most spirited day of training camp so far for the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the Jaguars pitting their starting units against each other in some high-pressure situations in the red-zone. 

One side of the ball dominated on Thursday, while another side of the ball looks to still be a work in progress after a hot start to camp earlier this week. But there was much more that took place than just the results of the red-zone passing drills. 

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

Defense beats Trevor Lawrence and the offense down in the red-zone 

The first day of practice was a wash because it was a typical Day 1 practice. The second day went to the offense. The third day went to the defense. But Day 4? Day 4 was a different practice altogether. The defense went beyond their performance from Thursday, with a host of linebackers and secondary players up and down the depth chart making impactful plays.

Ultimately, Lawrence finished 6-of-16 in the red-zone with four touchdown passes (to Evan Engram, Christian Kirk, Laquon Treadwell and Ryquell Armstead), one interception, and one touchdown run. Three of Lawrence's incompletions were pass breakups by the defense, with Shaquille Quarterman, Tre Herndon, Rayshawn Jenkins all getting their hands on passes. Lawrence also threw behind Kirk once, overthrew Laviska Shenault once, missed Dan Arnold once and wasn't on the same page with Zay Jones on another play, to provide context on the day he had.

A lot of this was good defense, though were instances of Lawrence struggling in the condensed area of the field. He had issues there in his rookie camp and during last year's regular season and that came up on a few passes on Thursday. There were also some cases of him and the receivers not being on the same page, which could either be a sign of things to come or be a reflection of the early stage of camp and their newness with one another. 

With that said, the defense deserves credit for its play on Thursday. It wasn't just the first-team defense, either, though Quarterman, Jenkins and Tyson Campbell all had good coverage while Tre Herndon flew around the field. Second-team linebacker Tyrell Adams broke up a pass for Dan Arnold and nearly forced a fumble on a Luke Farrell catch, while Xavier Crawford, Chris Claybrooks, Daniel Thomas, and Benjie Franklin all broke up passes. 

The Jaguars' entire defense showed out on Thursday. The starting unit set the tone, but it carried over the second- and third-team defenses as well, a good sign for a quickly improving unit. The downside is this was another case of the Jaguars struggling in the red-zone, making their next practice there an important one.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had to pivot on Thursday with right tackle Jawaan Taylor being held out for the day. Taylor's exact injury wasn't disclosed, but the veteran tackle spent the day either working to the side on a stationary bike or watching the offense from the sidelines. 

With Taylor not practicing, this meant second-year tackle Walker Little took every first-team rep at right tackle and Will Richardson took every second-team rep at that spot. Taylor having an injury could explain why Little took more reps on Wednesday than on Tuesday.

Taylor missing time while the Jaguars aren't in pads is not a major deal, but if he misses any extended stretches of practice then Little could potentially position himself at right tackle. This would be a disappointing outcome considering the upside to either Taylor or Little winning the job based on the play, so the Jaguars will have to hope Taylor is back sooner than later.

Taylor wasn't the only player who missed Thursday. Rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd was again held out, as was defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi. Fatukasi's injury hasn't been divulged to this point, but Lloyd is still day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

“He’s doing well. He’s still going to be day to day. Just want to give him time. With those injuries, you just don’t want to rush him back," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said before practice. "He’s a type of guy and type of kid that’s going to do the right things off the field from a mental standpoint with the defense. We’re going to give as much time as he needs.”

Kicker woes continue

Whether the Jaguars have their Week 1 kicker on the roster continues to be a question, though the Jaguars did see a kicker give himself a leg up in the battle on Thursday. Ryan Santoso didn't have a perfect day, missing two kicks in the warmup period (with one banging off the upright), but he did have a better day than undrafted rookie Andrew Mevis. 

Mevis struggled in warmups with a pair of misses of his own, but he then went 1-of-4 during the team period kicking drill. Santoso, on the other hand, made all four of his attempts, bouncing back from the previous period. It was important to see Santoso nail all four of his kicks, though now it will be important to see if he can be consistent. 

The Jaguars may or may not have their man at kicker, but it does seem like Santoso is the top option between himself and Mevis. Still, the Jaguars made a bold move to release Matthew Wright this offseason and not adding a more experienced leg to the room.

One thing that could be worth considering if the Jaguars don't see a kicker establish himself as a consistent option: could this impact how aggressive Doug Pederson is on fourth-downs? Pederson was forward thinking and aggressive on fourth downs while with the Eagles, and his hand could potentially be forced to do the same this year.

Rookie cornerback who continues to standout

Not many people had Montaric Brown on their list of potential training camp standouts, but the No. 222 overall pick has been a standout performer over the last two days. Brown isn't the biggest or fastest corner, but he competes on each down and seems to always be in the right place, at the right time. 

This all came into play again on Thursday, with Brown having one of the best reps of any player during team drills. Before the Jaguars went to the red-zone drills, they did some team work using the full length of the field, giving Brown and the other cornerbacks a chance to make plays on deeper routes. This led to Brown covering fellow rookie Kevin Austin Jr. on a comeback route, with Brown giving Austin no chance at catching the pass.

Brown stuck to Austin's hip throughout his break and was able to explode downhill on the ball as Austin made his turn, forcing Austin to lose his footing and fall to the ground due to how suffocating the coverage was. Brown had a pass breakup on Wednesday and on Thursday showed the ability to lock up a fellow rookie. He deserves some attention moving forward.

Play of the day

The play of the day has to go to the defense, and there is only one play that it could be.

The Jaguars didn't turn the ball over once during the first three days of practice, but the Jaguars' defense ended the streak on Thursday. Lawrence threw a heater to Engram in the red-zone drills, but the veteran tight end let the pass go through his hands, which led to the ball bouncing off of linebacker Shaquille Quarterman and sending it into the hand of Shaquill Griffin, who made a diving one-handed grab for the pick.

Considering it was both the first turnover of camp for the defense and was caught by Griffin, who had a few dropped picks in 2021, this was a highlight play for the defense. For the offense and Evan Engram, not so much.

Other notes

  • Dan Arnold had a tough day. He caught a touchdown at the end of practice from Jake Luton, but his three targets from Lawrence ended in incompletions, with one being a pass breakup from Rayshawn Jenkins and another play seeing him erased from play by Foyesade Oluokun. He also dropped two passes in a row in front of Doug Pederson during individual periods, which would carry on to his later drops. 
  • Chad Muma had a good day. He did get picked during Engram's red-zone touchdown, but he otherwise showed sticky coverage and was in the right position to make a tackle on a few run plays. 
  • Tre Herndon has been one of the best defenders in camp so far. He has made plays against the run and in coverage and even got the best of Christian Kirk at one point today.
  • Roy Robertson-Harris made a nice play during team drills, deflecting a Lawrence screen pass at the line of scrimmage. 
  • Badara Traore got second-team reps at left tackle for the second day in a row, a shift from the first two days of camp when Will Richardson got reps there.
  • Adam Gotsis took Foley Fatukasi's place in the Jaguars' base 3-4 defense during team drills, with Robertson-Harris at the other end spot and DaVon Hamilton at nose tackle.
  • Darious Williams took a few team reps on Thursday, showing progress he is making in his recovery from a shoulder injury. He didn't take any practice reps this spring and was limited to individual reps during the first three days of camp, but he donned a red jersey and got some time on the field in the red-zone on Thursday.