Jaguars Mailbag: How Different Is the Atmosphere at Training Camp?

In this week's mailbag, we recap the first week of training camp, the wide receiver depth chart, Urban Meyer's interest in DJ Chark's development, and more.
Author:
Publish date:

Each week during this year's season, Jaguar Report will take Jacksonville Jaguars-related questions from our readers across social media and answer them in a question-and-answer format, giving readers a chance to have their voices heard.

You can submit your questions every week by tweeting them to the Jaguar Report Twitter handle or by submitting them here.

This week we take questions on the wide receiver group, the energy around training camp and much, much more.

Q: Barring major injury, how likely is a trade at this point at a position of need? Like TE or pass rusher?

A: I don't think very likely. I truly do think the Jaguars have made their major moves and are prepared to enter 2021 with the pieces they have already picked up. The Jaguars weren't afraid to make trades during the offseason or the draft, but the Jaguars' new regime has yet to operate like a group looking to unload valuable draft capital. 

I think the Jaguars are content with what they have at tight end, though -- at least for now. Perhaps that changes if James O'Shaughnessy's ankle continues to make him miss valuable practice time, but Chris Manhertz, Ben Ellefson, and Luke Farrell have all looked serviceable in camp before pads have come on. Ultimately, I wouldn't expect a major trade in the first year of the Meyer regime.

Q: How different is the atmosphere this year?

A: As someone who experienced every day of training camp last year, the difference in the atmosphere this year has been irrefutable. The fact that the protocols on COVID-19 have been loosened to an extent compared to last season (thus allowing fans in the practice facility) has played a major role in this, but so has the Jaguars' new staff's approach to practice.

Essentially, practices are just more spirited and lively in this training camp. There is a higher degree of intensity and focus, with the Jaguars' staff taking a more direct and personal approach this year as compared to last year. Just seeing things like Meyer going from player to player ahead of practice to work on little pieces of their game or discuss something is a big difference compared to last year.

Q: Which Wideouts besides Laviska, Chark & Jones do you think will make the team?

A: Phillip Dorsett, Collin Johnson, Jamal Agnew due to his return ability, and maybe Jalen Camp? It is tough to see seven receivers making a 53-man roster when the simply reality is only three will see consistent snaps on a week-to-week basis, but Camp has flashed in a big way and has been the most impressive among the team's rookie receivers. 

Q: From the outside looking in, it appears Urban is taking a particular interest in DJ Chark’s development, does that seem to be the case?

A: To a degree, I think it is the case. Meyer has definitely challenged Chark more so in the public eyes than other receivers on the roster, while he has also frequently met with him in the minutes before practice to work on his ability to box-out cornerbacks. I think Meyer sees legitimately high potential in Chark and knows he needs help to coax it out and get him to completely get to where he needs to be. Meyer knows he doesn't have to do the same with Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault Jr. isn't coming off a down year like Chark is, so it isn't surprising to see Meyer make Chark his emphasis

Q: Where is Campbell playing? I know there was some talk of him playing more of a safety/hybrid role as opposed to straight outside corner.

A: We can not reveal where players line up due to guidelines for covering training camp, but I would refer you to what the Jaguars' said about Campbell following the selection of him at No. 33 overall. Urban Meyer said then that he saw him as a nickel, so conventional thinking would be that is where he will see the most time in the regular season. 

Q: Does Tebow make this team or not?

A: I am torn. On one hand, I think he has a better chance than Tyler Davis from the jump. After that though? He seems to be firmly behind both James O'Shaughnessy and Ben Ellefson at the 'F' tight end spot, while Chris Manhertz and Luke Farrell should be safe bets to make the roster as the team's top 'Y' tight ends.

It is tough to justify Tebow making the roster over Ellefson right now. Ellefson has flashed as a receiver against tight coverage, while that is where Tebow has struggled the most. Give me a few padded practices to give a better answer, but there are things both working for and against Tebow's chances at the moment. 

Q: Where does Trevor Lawrence need to improve?

A: Just his overall decision-making. That isn't even saying his decision-making is bad or needs improvement immediately, either, it is just the simple truth for a rookie quarterback. Lawrence is used to wide-open throwing lanes and there were countless instances at Clemson where he could just rely on his receivers to be better than the defense's best cornerbacks and safeties. This won't always be the case at the NFL level, so he will need to learn more and more about what he can and can't get away with now that defenses are longer, stronger and faster.

Q: How's the kicker returner competition coming along? 

A: I think Jamal Agnew will run away with the job just based off the major investment (by special teams standards) the Jaguars made in him in March. He was on the NFI list until Monday, though, so he wasn't able to practice much. I think as camp progresses, it will become more and more clear he is the team's top dog in terms of return work.

Q: Greetings John, how do you see the special teams taking shape? I would imagine that would put someone like Treadwell at a disadvantage. 

A: I think the Jaguars are going to ask nearly every skill player outside of their top-four receivers and top-two running backs to contribute to special teams. Special teams is a major piece of Meyer's entire background and philosophy as a coach, so the Jaguars will likely make it an area of major importance throughout his entire tenure. For any player who isn't a starter, like Treadwell, being able to make plays on special teams is vital.

Q: What do you think the Urban-Baalke relationship is like in terms of control? 50-50? 75-25? Some other split?

A: I don't think it would be accurate to put that kind of definition on their partnership. It is clear that Baalke has served as a sounding board for Meyer during his most inexperienced moments, such as following the draft when Meyer noted that Baalke talked him down from considering a trade up for Kyle Pitts. 

Here is the best way I can put it. The totality of the Jaguars' organization works under Meyer's image and voice, but Baalke is the closest person to his equal and assists heavily in the team's more low-key additions. Investments like Trevor Lawrence, Shaquill Griffin and Travis Etienne seem like Meyer moves, whereas moves like signing Laquon Treadwell seem to come directly from Baalke and his staff. 

Q: Who’s going to be RB1, RB2, RB3 to start the season?

A: Just in terms of pure carries? I will go James Robinson, then Travis Etienne, then Carlos Hyde. I think Etienne will see the most targets as a pass-catcher among the group though, so calling him or Robinson the lead-back is a bit inaccurate at this point. 

Ultimately, look for the Jaguars to play their running backs based off matchups and game-script. If they are behind and need to score quickly, expect a lot of Etienne. If they want to wear down a defense and build a lead slowly, then Robinson makes sense. It will change week-to-week, in my opinion. 

Q: What do you expect to see from CJ Henderson this season? Part of me feels like it’s already so hard to buy into him being a good starting corner, let alone worthy of a top-10 pick.

A: It is hard to say without seeing Henderson on the field. Put together the entire offseason and the first five days of training camp, and Henderson has barely been on the practice field as a result of his recovery from offseason labrum surgery and then being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of camp.

Right now, it is tough to make any predictions about Henderson's rookie defense because we simply haven't seen him take a true live rep since last year's game against the Green Bay Packers. I expect a healthy Henderson to start opposite of Shaquill Griffin and find some success in the new scheme, but that is a big projection as of now.