Day 2 of the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2021 training camp is in the books. The tempo and intensity ramped up as the Jaguars drew one day closer to the first day of pads and, ultimately, Week 1 at the Houston Texans.
But who stood out for the Jaguars in the blistering Florida heat on Thursday? Did any rookies have solid days? Did any veterans have days they will need to rebound from? We review all of this and more with our training camp notebook.
Trevor Lawrence looks even better on Day 2
Trevor Lawrence got off to a fantastic start to his first NFL training camp on Wednesday. It was a toned-down practice to an extent, but Lawrence made several tight-window throws that caught the eye. But that doesn't come close to comparing to what Lawrence put onto the practice field on Thursday, with the No. 1 overall pick elevating his game and testing the defense repeatedly with his mobility and big arm.
There are still no pads on, of course, and defensive backs aren't allowed to be completely physical, but anyone who saw Lawrence uncork dime after dime on Thursday knows it may not have mattered on any of his throws outside of potentially a deep attempt to Marvin Jones Jr. that wasn't hauled in.
Lawrence was at his best throwing near the sideline and across the middle of the field. He hit DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault each for big gains on strikes across the middle of the field that hit each perfectly in stride. The throw to Shenault came with the defender within an arm's reach in pursuit and arrived with serious heat on it. Lawrence also found Jones over the middle in tight coverage for a completion that would undoubtedly have a margin of error of zero considering the coverage.
Lawrence's two best throws of the day were his two deep shots down the sideline. He hit Jones perfectly in stride for a 45-yard touchdown, leading Jones into the end zone and in-bounds. Jones had beat Luq Barcoo and was open by a few steps, but it was still a great pass in terms of accuracy and timing.
The throw to Shenault was even better. Shenault burst through the defense near the right sideline and found space to pull away from two defensive backs. Lawrence floated the ball perfectly in stride to Shenault over each defender, giving him room in-bounds to secure the catch.
Overall, Lawrence just impressed time and time again. He is the most mobile of the team's quarterbacks and looks as comfortable throwing from outside the pocket as in it. There is also a sizeable difference in terms of how quick he is processing plays and pulling the trigger. It is worth noting that corners can't break on the ball and likely would have at least attempted to on some of the passes otherwise, but Lawrence was simply on the money on each attempt regardless.
Again, Lawrence will have his down moments as a rookie. He will take bad sacks and likely even throw a camp interception at some point. His first pass on Thursday was even batted down at the line by Dawuane Smoot.
But through two days, Lawrence has elevated his game and put forth the best practice performances a Jaguars' quarterback has had during my three years on the beat.
Special guests get a close look
The Jaguars picked a good day to open the gates at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex at TIAA Bank Field. Along with the return of fans (more later), the Jaguars also had a pair of special guests on the sideline for the second practice of camp: Lou Holtz and Shad Khan.
Holtz, one of the most accomplished coaches in the sport of college football and a member of the sport's hall of fame, was seen early at the Jaguars practice and staffed with a few staffers, including an extended conversation with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell before practice. Considering Meyer's connections to the coaching world, it should be expected to get a few more guests like this over camp.
Then, of course, there was Khan. Khan took the biggest leap of his tenure as the Jaguars' owner this offseason when he hired Meyer out of the broadcast booth to become a first-time head coach. He likely left Thursday more than enthused with how things have played out to this point considering Lawrence's performance.
The "quarterback competition" should be over
Until the Jaguars actually name a starting quarterback, they don't have one. Meyer said in June, and was backed up by passing game Brian Schottenheimer, that the team didn't yet have a starting quarterback. Well, if there is truly a competition between Lawrence and Gardner Minshew (we do not believe there is one), that choice became much easier Thursday. Minshew was solid on Wednesday but he took a massive step back today, which came at a bad time considering Lawrence's practice.
Minshew had a poor showing throughout most of Thursday's practice. He was late on a few short, quick-hitting passes and ultimately didn't push the envelope much, with the vast majority of his pass attempts being 10 yards or fewer. The one time he attempted to throw deep, he was off-target by several yards. He ultimately just didn't look comfortable running with the second team, especially compared to how in-command he was the day before.
Lawrence got the first reps of practice Thursday and more or less dominated the level of first-team reps. He was given more work by the Jaguars and ultimately more to work with since he operated the offense with Chark, Jones and Shenault as opposed to the team's backup receivers.
Minshew is still a solid player. One practice would never change that. But Thursday showed a clear difference at quarterback -- a difference that should end any competition before it begins.
K'Lavon Chaisson stands out during a practice where it is hard for most to do so
You won't find much commentary on the defensive and offensive lines in this space until pads come on. There is some contact, but until the real battles begin, it is just hard to make any serious judgments unless someone really stands out. Second-year edge defender K'Lavon Chaisson did just that on Thursday though, making a big impact in a practice where it would be difficult for any front-seven defender to do so.
Chaisson frequently got pressure Thursday, beating Walker Little and Cam Robinson each around the edge to force the quarterback to step up, though finding more success against Little. Chaisson's first step and flexibility are clear, even when the practice isn't full contact. He was called for one offsides, but the more important fact is that he was effective with his rushes throughout the day.
Etienne makes his introduction
No. 25 overall pick Travis Etienne had a big day on Thursday, even within the context of the Jaguars not yet having pads on. Even without pads, the Jaguars are still calling running plays and the whistle doesn't stop until essentially it appears the defense has the running back corralled. While this isn't a game scenario, it is worth noting that not every single goes for a positive gain. Some are stopped at the line of scrimmage or even before it.
That didn't happen with Etienne on Thursday, though. Etienne broke off several long runs on Thursday, waiting patiently to find the hole and then bursting through it untouched. He broke each of the two runs past the second level without defenders near him, so it is safe to say in pads these would have been big gains as well. His burst and ability to get skinny in traffic are clear.
Etienne also made several nice catches out of the backfield, showing off the ability to catch outside his frame. He was the recipient on a Lawrence completion after Lawrence broke the pocket as well, which gave the duo a chance to display their chemistry on extended plays.
Sidney Jones makes the best defensive play of camp so far
It is hard for defensive backs to make many plays in camp up to this point, but that didn't stop Sidney Jones. Running against the second-team and third-team offenses, Jones was close to a few different passes Thursday, but his play against C.J. Beathard was his best. With Beathard attempting to throw a hitch underneath, Jones undercut the route (which the receiver did slip during) and made an incredibly acrobatic diving grab for the interception.
It was the first interception of the Jaguars' camp and came from the team's best defensive back from a year ago. Jones has a chance to legitimately push for snaps in the secondary if CJ Henderson misses any time throughout the course of the season, so plays like the one he made Thursday will always go a long way.
The curious case of Phillip Dorsett
If there is any skill player who has perhaps gotten off to a slow start this camp, it is veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett flashed throughout the entire course of the offseason and looked to potentially have the No. 4 receiver job in a vice grip, but he will have to become more consistent over the course of camp to ensure that stays the same.
Dorsett has been a frequent target of both Lawrence and Minshew through two days. In fact, few players on the offense have been targeted more in 7-on-7 or team drills. This is in large part because of the fact that he sees time with the first and second team offenses, but ultimately Dorsett has been given ample opportunity through two days. He hasn't always shined, though, dropping passes on both days of practice. He has made his fair share of good plays, such as a deep completion Wednesday, but he has struggled with the consistency of his hands more than the other top receivers.
Fans make their return to training camp
Jaguars fans packed the house Thursday and the energy they gave off was obvious. From loud cheers as players trotted onto the field (the loudest were for Lawrence, Tim Tebow, and Jay Tufele), to the Jaguars' players showing love to the crowd following the day, it felt like the fan base and the team was truly connected on Thursday. This was the first time fans have been to a camp practice in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the energy they gave off Thursday compared to last year's fan-less practices was more than noticeable.
Tim Tebow continues to make strides. While there is still a tough pecking order in front of him, Tebow had another positive practice on Thursday after he brought in two passes during team drills the day before. Tebow was on the receiving end of a solid gain from Minshew during team drills, a catch that showed nice hands from Tebow as well as good explosion up the field after the catch.
Tebow still needs to show out when the pads come on, but count the first two days of Jaguars training camp as a win for him. He still expectedly looks unnatural at times, but he is catching the ball each time it is thrown his direction, which goes a long way.