Things on the field are going slowly so far as the entire league continues the ramp-up period, but Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is still able to pick up on a few things his roster displays.
How good of shape are they in? How does their technique work? How do they approach practice? These are all things Marrone can gleam from training camp practices, whether it pertains to longtime players or new faces such as rookies or free agent signings.
On Thursday, Marrone used this light to give insight into how he has viewed one of his most important rookies so far -- wide receiver Laviska Shenault. While Marrone still needs to see Shenault do it in pads, he has seen plenty to impress him thus far.
“I think it’s good. I think it’s really good. I think that we’re putting a lot on him. You know, he’s an incredible athlete," Marrone said Thursday. "I mean, when you get a visual on him I don’t think you realize, until you actually see him up close, how big he is, how strong he is, how powerful he is."
Expectations are high for Shenault after the Jaguars spent the No. 42 pick on him in the second round of April's NFL Draft. Shenault was the most significant investment the team made into the offense this offseason, and the hope is he can make an instant impact on an offense that was 26th in scoring last season.
While at Colorado, the 6-foot-1, 227-pound receiver utilized his blend of size and speed to become a dangerous option in the passing game and punishing after the catch. In his sophomore season, Shenault pulled in 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns, also adding 115 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Follow his sophomore 2018 season, Shenault underwent two surgeries, one for a torn labrum and another for a toe injury. In 2019, his production ticked down slightly, going for 764 yards and four touchdowns on 56 receptions, adding another 161 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Shenault spent time at wide receiver, running back, tight end and wildcat quarterback for Colorado, something that Marrone has referenced on more than one occasion.
"I think he can play multiple positions and it’s just a matter of ‘Let’s get him off to a great start,” which he has," ,Marrone said. "[He is] catching the ball extremely well, he can run, he can get in and out of cuts. So, it’s going to be an exciting camp for that group."
Shenault will join fellow rookie Collin Johnson (fifth-round selection) as newcomers to a wide receiver room that already features veterans such as DJ Chark, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. So far, so good, for Shenault and Johnson, Marrone said, one of the most encouraging signs of the Jaguars' camp thus far.
"They’re all showing that they have good ball skills, they all work extremely hard. [Wide Receivers Coach] Keenan McCardell does a great job with them. So, there’s going to be a lot of competition there and you know, it’s going to be good for everybody. Those young guys are going to push the older guys.”