The Jacksonville Jaguars have turned in another long and eventful week of practice and preparation for a Sunday bout, this time preparing for a tough home opener against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
From the status of a key injured defender to how the Jaguars are attempting to coach up some of their weak areas from the previous week, we take a look at this week in Jaguars' football in this edition of the Jaguars Notebook.
Tre Herndon is still a week away
The Jaguars won't be getting veteran cornerback Tre Herndon back this weekend, but head coach Urban Meyer indicated the Jaguars are confident in his chances to play in Week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals. Herndon is the Jaguars' second-most experienced cornerback, behind only Shaquill Griffin. With his injury, the Jaguars are left with just four healthy cornerbacks, which will include rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell in the slot.
“He’s [looking at] next week. We’re hoping next week. He won’t play this week," Meyer said.
Herndon had an inside track to a starting role in the Jaguars' defense before sustaining an MCL injury during the first preseason game. Herndon returned to practice in a limited capacity on Thursday, but the fourth-year cornerback is not quite ready to return.
Urban Meyer addresses holding issues
The Jaguars were hit with a number of crippling holding penalties in Week 1, specifically against the offensive line. It seemed like each time the Jaguars broke off a positive run early in the game, the yellow flags were coming out and the Jaguars were forced to march backward. Brandon Linder, James O'Shaughnessy and Jawaan Taylor were all hit with holding calls, though Meyer noted he didn't agree with each one of them.
“Heartbreaking. Obviously that’s something you work through in practice. I’m never going to challenge the officials publicly, but we took a close look at the one on Linder," Meyer said on Friday. "That was acceleration feet. We don’t coach him much different than what he did."
While some of the holding calls on Jacksonville were iffy at best, the Jaguars know there will be no pity for them from the referees or anyone else. They will instead have to power through it, which includes turning some calls into the NFL office for more clarity.
"But holding penalties, that’s the second-worst penalty in football, first being a hold or a block in the back on KOR [kickoff return]. The holds just knock you out of rhythm," Meyer said. "It’s just something we’re addressing. We watch it closely. We turned it into the league, and we got our results back and coach through it. It’s going to be a challenge this week with those two ends.”
Laviska Shenault continues to impress the staff
Count Laviska Shenault as one player the Jaguars staff is continually high on. The buzz around Shenault was palpable during the offseason and training camp, and Shenault has done enough through the preseason and Week 1 to continue to leave his mark. Shenault caught five passes for 50 yards against Houston and saw seven total targets, turning in an efficient day with room for improvement.
“Well, I think if you go back to the Dallas game, we just flipped one out to him and he’s dragging three guys for 5, 6, 7 more yards. He has that physical presence," Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said on Thursday. "He has the ability to make guys miss. Any time you can take pressure off the quarterback by getting it out to him as a quick throw and a guy can turn it into explosive plays is always helpful.”
The most important thing for Shenault so far has been his ability to be available. Shenault had a reputation entering the NFL as an injury-prone player and he fought against injuries at times last year, but this is one area that has especially impressed Meyer.
"Once again, he has a narrative of being hurt all the time and he hasn’t missed anything. He’s been fantastic," Meyer said this week.
"We’ve just got to get him in space a little bit more. A good young player, a really good young player.”
Jaguars continuing to prepare for Bradley Chubb to play
Bradley Chubb and Von Miller are one of the NFL's best pass-rushing duos, but the top-notch pass-rushers have been unable to share a field for nearly two years now. The last time the two played in the same game was in Week 4 of the 2019 season, which coincidentally is the last time the Jaguars played Denver. And while Chubb has been limited in practice this week with an ankle injury, but the Jaguars are preparing for the former top pick to play.
"But you’ll always have both sides, we’re planning on both those guys playing, so we definitely have to help take care of those guys," Bevell said on Thursday. "Whatever it is, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. I can just kind of leave it at that, but definitely you have to be aware of those guys because they can wreck the game.”
There are few edge duos in the NFL who create the problems that Chubb and Miller create. As a result, Meyer sees the matchup as potentially the biggest challenge the Jaguars will see this year along the defensive front.
“[It’s] about as big as there is [with] those two edge players. They don’t pressure a lot because they want to let the dogs eat. They can eat and then the inside guys are decent too. [A] good defensive front," Meyer said.
50/50 balls remain spotlighted in Jaguars in practice.
The Jaguars let the Texans convert several long shots to Brandin Cooks last Sunday, two big plays that completely changed the course of the game and swung all of the momentum toward Houston and away from Jacksonville. And the problem wasn't the Jaguars' coverage -- they were right there with Cooks on both passes, contesting each and having a chance to make a play. The issue instead is the fact that when these 50/50 situations came up, the Jaguars kept finding themselves on the losing end. This is a trend that popped up in the first two weeks of the preseason and has now continued into the regular-season, but Meyer is confident the Jaguars can reverse it.
“We’ve had a couple of those this year. We just have to [make those plays] and I have all the confidence in the world they will because I see them do it in practice," Meyer said.
"Tyrod launched it down the field on three different occasions. They were 50-50 balls; we didn’t come down with it. That’s something that we have to improve and we worked hard at. But, like you said, there was no coverage blown. It’s just making a play on the ball. They’re good players out there that should and will make them down the road.”
Meyer, Bevell hopeful the Jaguars' offense will be orchestrated cleaner on Sunday
Few offenses looked as sloppy as Jacksonville's in Week 1. Whether it was illegal formations on the offensive line and receivers, getting out of the huddle too slowly, having too many players in the huddle, or not getting the ball snapped fast enough, the Jaguars simply didn't operate sharply or efficiently against the Houston Texans. That is something the Jaguars now hope will be cleared up after another week of practice, especially now that the issues have crept onto regular-season tape.
“It’s good. The week before we had a Monday [off], but with Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, it’s not that much different than [what] I’m used to. Our players have been great," Meyer said on Friday. "Today’s a day before a day before we call it, ‘fast Fridays.’ But yeah, I like our routine.”
"We just have to orchestrate overall better, whether it starts with me getting the play in quicker, getting the personnel in and off the field quicker, giving Trevor [Lawrence] and those guys more time at the line," Bevell said on Thursday.
"All of that can be done better and we’ve addressed that.”
Jaguars using Charlie Strong's connection to Teddy Bridgewater ahead of Sunday
One of the top quarterback/head coach combos in college football from 2011-2013 was Teddy Bridgewater and Charlie Strong during their tenures leading the Louisville Cardinals' football program. Bridgewater and Strong brought consistency, winning, and respectability to Louisville. And while that was nearly a decade ago, the Jaguars are still planning on using Strong's experience with Bridgewater to prepare for Sunday's game, with the Jaguars' assistant head coach and linebackers coach informing the staff with all they need to know about Denver's starting quarterback.
“We talked about him a little bit and he shared some thoughts with the defensive staff, mostly just respect of the player that he is, things that he likes, maybe things he doesn’t like, but there’s a lot of respect for Teddy," Meyer said about the two on Friday.
"Obviously, he won a lot of games for Charlie now, a lot. And they’re still very close, obviously.”