The dog days of summer are officially here. Organized team activities and minicamps have ended. Workouts have paused. And until training camp, the Jacksonville Jaguars will put their 2021 ambitions on momentary pause.
But that doesn't mean Tuesday's mandatory veteran minicamp practice didn't show a number of revealing moments. From standout performances to competitions heating up on special teams, the final day of the Jaguars' offseason training schedule is now in the books. What did we take away from watching the practice? We break it all down below.
The kicking competition is legit
The Jaguars continued to let Josh Lambo and Aldrick Rosas split reps as kickers on Tuesday, with Lambo and Rosas taking turns kicking field goals apiece in live field goal protection and defensive drills during practice. If there were any doubts the two would be a tight race for the starting kicking role moving forward, this week should have evaporated them. The two kicked the field goals from different places on the field, with each showing adequate leg strength and accuracy -- all while Urban Meyer watched with intense intent from just a few yards away.
With Lambo (5 of 5) having the edge over Rosas (4 of 5) in Tuesday's performance, along with the fact that Lambo has been both more consistent and effective than Rosas during each's respective career it is hard to say Lambo shouldn't enter training camp as the heavy favorite to win the job. With this in mind, it is clear the Jaguars are at least having a competition with merit, and not one for just competition's sakes. Expect for this to be one of the Jaguars' most hotly-contested positional battles throughout the offseason, a battle that took another step on Tuesday.
Travis Etienne stands out as a pass-catcher
The Jaguars' plans for Travis Etienne had already been well-documented to this point. What is now notable is seeing just how comfortable Etienne looks as the Jaguars' "slash" player, a skill player who will be asked to make plays both out of the backfield and split out wide. Those are big responsibilities to put on any rookie, even a first-round pick, and some rookie moments should always be expected. But on Tuesday, just as on previous days, Etienne showed he could handle the extra duties.
Etienne did much more aside from catching a touchdown from Minshew during the team's red-zone drills. He looked like a natural receiver throughout the day, running crisp routes out of the backfield during individual drills and showing off the ability to bring in passes from outside his frame. His burst is evident when he sinks his hips and makes his breaks, a big reason he continued to be open and make catch after catch in individual drills and team drills on Tuesday.
While the highlights of the performances from Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew and co. were all over social media on Tuesday, it serves to the larger point that Tuesday was a great day of practice for the offense as a whole. After a few weeks of working together in first-year coordinator Darrell Bevell's offense, the team's skill players and passers finished the offseason with a productive day of work. For a unit that looked like it was going through some growing pains at times as they adjusted to a new offense, Tuesday served as a terrific end of the offseason.
From quarterbacks to skill players, the passing game is coming together
From Trevor Lawrence, DJ Chark and Gardner Minshew to Tyler Davis, Devine Ozigbo, Tim Tebow, and C.J. Beathard, the Jaguars had numerous players who had some of their best practices of the offseason. These are just June minicamp practices of course, but the Jaguars' offense was effective in team drills and some tangible development could be seen during individual drills as well.
Lawrence moved around with ease throughout the practice despite his hamstring, while Beathard had his best performance of the offseason, tossing touchdowns to Davis and Chark in the final period of the practice. He didn't have the errant mistakes of past practices, throwing with more precision and confidence. Tebow, meanwhile, caught everything that came his way and drew a pass interference call in the end zone against outside linebacker Aaron Patrick. Ozigbo looked like one of the team's most explosive route runners at the running back position during individual drills, while Davis' touchdown in the end zone was arguably the best play he has made in a practice with the Jaguars, showing off great ball tracking skills and coordinator as he caught an over the shoulder pass in the corner of the end zone.
The impact of continuity along the offensive line is hard to miss
While the Jaguars changed the roster from top to bottom at most positions, one group that is more or less the same as it was in 2020 is the offensive line room. From each of the team's five starters to its top backups in Ben Bartch, Tyler Shatley and Will Richardson to offensive line coach George Warhop, the team returned familiar faces in droves this offseason. The only significant addition is backup left tackle Walker Little, who the Jaguars selected at No. 45 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Through the offseason workouts, the Jaguars' continuity along the offensive line has been impossible to miss, especially on Tuesday.
From the first rep in individual drills to the final snap in team drills, the offensive line didn't miss a beat on Tuesday. Their familiarity with one another and with Warhop is clear as communication was seamless throughout drills. The Jaguars' offensive line practices like a unit that has done it all a thousand times already, which is to expected but is still encouraging. The unit moved in complete synchronization on Tuesday, an encouraging step moving forward.
Deeper rotations at defensive line and in the secondary are already showing up
If there are two position groups the Jaguars were clearly shorthanded at when looking back at last year's training camp, it would clearly be the defensive line and secondary groups. The Jaguars barely had enough serviceable starting talent when every player was healthy, so the chances of the team having any reliable depth at each position were slim to none to begin with. But on Tuesday, it became more and more clear just how much the Jaguars have invested in both positions.
A year ago, the Jaguars were small along the interior defensive line and had few established faces. Even in the early days of training camp, one could tell the team was in trouble along its front. But on Tuesday as the Jaguars ran through individual drills and deployed a deep rotation during team drills, it stood out just how much the Jaguars have invested into the defensive line. The unit has not only gotten larger in terms of mass, the top and mid-level talent have clearly improved as well.
As for the secondary, it didn't have the kind of day in practice that it had last week when it recorded three interceptions, but the unit still put forth an active rotation that saw former starters such as Sidney Jones and Tre Herndon providing depth and No. 33 overall pick Tyson Campbell beginning to find his place in the defense. We won't know just how much the secondary has improved until the regular season, but the unit has clearly improved its speed and depth, each of which was evident on Tuesday.