Jacksonville Jaguars football is back.
The Jaguars hit the practice field for the first time during training camp on Wednesday, putting in the first of what will become many long, hot and hard days of work on the gridiron.
So, what did we see while viewing the first official Jaguars' practice of the 2021 season? Did things go smoothly in Urban Meyer's first-ever first day of camp? How did No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence look? We take a peek at all of this and more.
Lawrence has a stellar first day
For as impressive as Trevor Lawrence was during the offseason, he genuinely looked even better during the first day of training camp practices. Yes, there were no pads and thus no live bullets flying at the No. 1 pick, but it wouldn't have mattered with the way he threw the ball. Sans a fumbled shotgun snap that Lawrence proceeded to pick up and carry for additional yardage, Lawrence was completely mistake-free in his first-ever training camp practice.
Lawrence didn't get the first reps of the day (more on that later) but he shined with the backups. His two best passes in 7-on-7 drills were caught by depth players Pharoh Cooper and Tim Tebow, but each was a strike that no Jaguars' quarterback over the last several years has shown the ability to do.
On the throw to Cooper, Lawrence saw that Cooper won inside leverage against the cornerback and threw a rocket 20+ yards up the seam. Tre Herndon was within an arm's reach of the ball and had tight coverage, but the pass hit Cooper perfectly in stride with spectacular velocity.
On the Tebow catch, Lawrence once again fit the ball up the seam but this time split two defenders and found the soft spot in the zone while doing so. This was a pass that would have been intercepted or at the very least knocked down if it wasn't a pinpoint pass with some serious heat on it, but Lawrence hit Tebow in stride for a big play.
Lawrence will have down moments eventually -- but he didn't have any on Wednesday.
Minshew gets first reps at QB, starting a camp-long rotation
The first player to take snaps from Brandon Linder on Wednesday wasn't Lawrence. Instead, it was third-year quarterback Gardner Minshew getting the first-team reps, with Minshew himself having a solid day of practice outside of a pair of off-target deep passes to Ben Ellefson and DJ Chark. But if you asked any media member in Jacksonville before practice who they thought would get the first reps Wednesday, the majority would have said Minshew.
But as Meyer noted, this will fluctuate as camp goes on. Lawrence got some first-team reps while Minshew got the others, and this will be a fluid situation moving forward as the Jaguars determine their starting quarterback on an official basis.
"They rotated today," Meyer said. "It's a long process. Today, it was Gardner and Trevor at one. And then tomorrow I think will be a little different."
It is a bit jarring to not see a No. 1 overall pick be handed the job from the word 'Go', but the Jaguars didn't just give Lawrence the No. 1 reps in the offseason, either. And this likely won't continue as training camp marches on, with Lawrence likely to see more and more of the primary practice reps as Week 1 inches closer.
Andre Cisco practices
One of the most important pieces of the Jaguars' 2021 rookie class is third-round safety Andre Cisco. The No. 65 overall pick has the best combination of ball skills and athleticism of any safety and arguably defensive back on the roster and getting him on the field early and often could give the defense the rejuvenation it needs in terms of forcing turnovers.
Luckily for the Jaguars, Cisco got off to a positive start on Wednesday. There were some questions following the drafting of Cisco about whether he would be able to practice at the start of training camp, concerns that stemmed from a season-ending ACL injury in late September 2020.
But on Wednesday, Cisco took the field with the rest of the team's safeties and went through individual drills -- such as one where the safeties work on their tracking and ball skills -- without any issues. He moved comfortably all practice long, which is a good sign for him and the Jaguars moving forward.
The fact that Cisco was never played on the PUP list was always a good sign for his availability for camp, but seeing him running and jumping on the field as a Jaguar was the cherry on top for his return to football.
Which pass-catchers stood out?
Since there are no pads allowed, it is tough for players in the front seven or along the offensive line to stand out early on in camp. This does give the team's skill players a chance to shine and do what they do best, however, and a few different Jaguars stood out when given that chance Wednesday.
Josh Imatorbhebhe made several nice grabs along the sidelines. He has shown off good balance, hand-eye coordination, and consistency since he joined the team as an undrafted free agent. He wasn't thrown any bombs today, but he caught everything sent in his direction.
James O'Shaughnessy had the best play of any Jaguar in Wednesday's practice. Minshew threw a beautiful 30+ yard pass to O'Shaughnessy along the right sideline, with the veteran tight end twisting his body in the air to bring it down in-bounds for a giant gain.
Luke Farrell made a big catch of his own, tracking a deep ball from C.J. Beathard over his right shoulder and bringing it in near the sideline. Farrell has shown impressive hands since the offseason and plays like that could get him more and more looks as camp goes on.
Attendance and housekeeping
There were a few Jaguars not present at practice, a few who were present but didn't practice, and a few who are still officially on some type of reserve or active list.
- Taven Bryan, Jamal Agnew and Aldrick Rosas were placed on the active/non-football injury list on Wednesday. Bryan and Agnew would later walk out to the practice field with their helmets on.
- Jake Luton didn't take any snaps, but he was on the practice field without his helmet for Wednesday's practice. He was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last weekend.
- Terry Godwin was seen on the practice field with a walking boot. He was placed on injured reserve on June 3.
- Chris Claybrooks, CJ Henderson and Luq Barcoo remain on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
No contact from the DBs ... yet
We aren't going to present passing stats until pads come on for one reason: cornerbacks can't get physical and make plays on the ball yet. There was one play where DJ Chark brought in a completion from Minshew, but it was a pass that Shaquill Griffin would have intercepted in a game since he was right there with Chark at the catch point.
This is in large part because the Jaguars are being cautious with contact from defensive backs after their level of contact during the offseason -- at least until pads come on. The Jaguars were fined and stripped of a few OTA practices in 2022, and Meyer himself was fined, due to plays during the offseason where there was too much contact between receivers and defensive backs. As a result, there is not yet any press coverage in Jaguars' camp.
Perhaps Josh Lambo heard the offseason chatter about his job being on the line?
With Rosas not practicing on Wednesday, Lambo was given ample opportunity to showcase his skills and to demonstrate that his injury plagued 2020 season is officially behind him. Lambo did just that, hitting all six of his field goal attempts during the special teams period. Lambo was on the money for the entire duration of the drill, which will be key for him to continue when Rosas makes it back to the practice field.
It is much too early to call any training camp battles. Next week will be too early, too. But for now, Lambo at least appears to in the driver's seat due to a combination of his performance and Rosas' absence.