JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With other major things going on both within and outside of TIAA Bank Field on Thursday, we went to Jaguars practice and took extensive notes, but opted to focus on yesterday's non-practice events and instead combine Thursday's notes with observations from today's lighter practice.
The Jaguars held over 28 players out of practice on Friday with scheduled "maintenance days", which was expected with the team having a scrimmage inside of the stadium on Saturday morning. With so many players, including some key starters, not on the practice field, it was an unsurprisingly lighter practice than other days.
So, who stood out the last two days and what could it mean moving forward? We break it down here.
- Chris Thompson has been one of the stars of red zone drills during camp this year. If he stays healthy, which has admittedly been an issue for him in the past, he has the potential to play a big role in the passing game. He made two fantastic plays during red zone period on Thursday, with one catch coming from an off-balance Minshew due to a blitz. Thompson showed soft hands to bring the pass in, and he had a massive area of space for separation.
- Speaking of running backs, Leonard Fournette had a great day on Thursday thanks to a few long runs in team drills. On each of the runs, Fournette was patient in the backfield and let blocks develop in front of him before exploding past defenders for big gains. This has been an issue with his game at times in the past, so it is definitely a positive development.
- Adam Gotsis has flashed as a run defender at times during camp, and this again the case on Thursday. He beat Cam Robinson and Bruce Miller each for some impressive run stops which displayed his quickness and instincts. He also had some solid reps vs. Will Richardson in one-on-one pass-rush drills.
- Don't expect to see Cassius Marsh in coverage too often, but it will happen from time to time, just like it did with Leon Jacobs over the last two seasons. But in the event he is ever downfield in coverage, Marsh can look back to solid coverage he had against tight end James O'Shaughnessy on a route that was past the first down marker. The throw was a bit high, but Marsh was right there the entire route and was in a position to make a play on an accurate ball.
- Cam Robinson and Josh Allen had some terrific battles during one-on-ones. Each won a few reps, with Allen showing good burst and urgency with his counter moves but Robinson also showing improved quickness and footwork. Robinson has had a really good camp, something the Jaguars badly needed to happen.
- K'Lavon Chaisson didn't have any winning reps during one-on-ones, but he got better as the practice progressed and was disruptive by the time it was winding down. His one-on-one reps showed a lot of explosion and speed but he was unable to get off blocks, but in team drills he was able to use his quickness off of the ball to pressure the quarterback a few times and even combine for a would-be sack with Josh Allen.
- Nobody has really been able to block DaVon Hamilton consistently over the past few days. This continued on Thursday, with Hamilton beating K.C. McDermott and Blake Hance on more than a few occasions in one-on-ones. He had one specific rush that was particularly impressive because it showed him get penetration with power and then spin inside to shed the block. He has really picked up his game, and the Jaguars should be excited about him.
- Gardner Minshew II was mostly sharp in team drills. He hit Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault for a few accurate passes over the middle of the field, and then he delivered a perfect deep ball to Cole downfield that was broken up by D.J. Hayden, which was more of a great play by Hayden than anything else. The high throw to O'Shaughnessy is the only notable miss from Thursday.
- Keep an eye out for rookie guard Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms. He is a longshot to make the roster due to number restrictions, but he had some terrific reps at guard on Thursday, displaying a good anchor and smooth footwork in pass protection. He has been a surprising performer as of late.
- Brandon Watson got a lot of reps at safety on Thursday during team drills. The Jaguars are likely splitting reps among their backups at the position to see who fits best in the defense due to the sheer amount of talented players they have at the spot as of now.
- Should Dawuane Smoot be locked in as the Day 1 started at big end? No clue if he is or not based on how reps have been shared at camp, but Smoot has been impressive enough in wins against Jawaan Taylor in one-on-ones and team drills to earn consideration from the coaching staff, in our opinion.
- Today's practice was obviously on a smaller scale compared to Thursday, but there was still a fair amount of observations to gather. Namely, we saw a lot of one-on-one drills between cornerbacks and wide receivers, with the receivers and corners who are either rookies or who are lower on Jacksonville's depth chart getting a lot of chances to shine. The most impressive players from these drills? CJ Henderson, Terry Godwin, Josh Hammond and Luq Barcoo.
- Henderson had several impressive reps against Laviska Shenault in which he didn't allow separation and put himself in a position to make a play on the ball. Shenault's size and strength is usually too much for cornerbacks at the top of routes, but it wasn't for Henderson on Friday. Henderson also recorded an interception later on the drill, intercepting an underthrown Gardner Minshew pass to Collin Johnson. How impressive the pick was could be debated for some, but the way we see it is that players are supposed to turn poor passes into big plays, and it was still great ball tracking from a corner who has never been known for his ball skills. He did grab some, but it was a nice play on the ball.
- Terry Godwin, who was one of the stars of Tuesday's practice, had another impressive day Friday. He did drop one pass, but he was virtually uncoverable in terms of being able to get separation. He ran smooth, explosive routes and was able to use his quickness to escape from DBs on nearly every rep. It is hard to see him making the roster due to the depth chart at receiver, but he would be a tough player to let go.
- Josh Hammond beat Parry Nickerson on a few different routes on Friday, and he was open for what should have been a deep touchdown if not for an overthrow from Mike Glennon. He has flashed good hands and easy separation skills all camp.
- Luq Barcoo has been arguably one of the four or five best cornerbacks in Jaguars camp this year, and he continued his impressive August on Friday when he had tight coverage on numerous reps and then had an impressive breakup vs. Marvelle Ross.
- Two players who didn't really stand out during these drills? Parry Nickerson and Collin Johnson. Nickerson lost reps to Josh Hammond, Marvelle Ross and Terry Godwin, while Collin Johnson struggled to get open. Johnson has otherwise had some great practices in the past, but Nickerson has failed to stand out in a big way.
- Cassius Marsh had some terrific one-on-one wins vs. Garrett McGhin. His speed and flexibility off of the edge really stand out, which is vital for the Jaguars considering their lack of depth at edge defender.
- Leon Jacobs also had some impressive wins off of the edge, with his also coming against Garrett McGhin. He looks to be focusing on his ability to turn the corner and shed blocks each practice, which is welcome news for the Jaguars considering their need for more players on the edge.
- Just about 30 players were held out for maintenance days, but each of the Jaguars 2020 first-rounders was on the field with CJ Henderson and K'Lavon Chaisson. Chaisson got a ton of individual work in with defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich at the start of practice, then won a few reps against Will Richardson in one-on-ones.
- Ben Bartch beat Caraun Reid on several one-on-ones. This isn't as impressive as beating Timmy Jernigan, but Bartch continues to win reps vs. veterans with much more experience than him.
- Minshew's deep ball wasn't as crisp as it has been in the rest of camp. You could likely attribute this to the fact that he was without most of his top receivers, each of whom he has chemistry with, but he has had better days airing out this month.
- The scrimmage will take place at 9:45 a.m. at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday, with the team going to the stadium instead of sticking on the practice field like they did for their first scrimmage.