On Monday, Nick Foles took his first practice reps as the Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback since before Week 1. After collarbone surgery and a two-month hiatus, the man the Jaguars signed to be their franchise quarterback was at last back in the huddle, and the team isn’t looking back.
“It feels good. I know a lot of the sacrifices he has made and the things he has gone through to get back out there for this team, so I am just excited,” wide receiver Chris Conley said about Foles on Monday. “Whenever anyone has an injury, you always hope the best and pray for them and hope that they can overcome it. He’s done a lot of things to overcome this and get back out there for this team.”
Foles has missed the vast majority of the 2019 season thus far after suffering a clavicle injury against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. Foles played only 11 snaps before he was injured and placed on the team’s injured reserve list for the following eight games. But this upcoming Sunday, this will all be in the past.
As the Jaguars (4-5) prepare for Sunday’s monumental AFC South clash with the Indianapolis Colts, the team has no plans to limit what Foles is going to do in practice. He is officially back, and they are going to treat him as such. After all, he has already been practicing for the last several weeks as the NFL rules give him a 21-day window to practice before being activated from injured reserve.
“Well he’s been practicing now, so we’ve already gone through the progression of, OK, when he first came back we were focused on doing this, and then we were focused on just really building it up,” head coach Doug Marrone said Monday.
“Building up the reps, building up the amount of speed around him, I guess that’s probably the best way, because early on obviously we don’t want anyone around him, we don’t want any setback.”
When it comes to being caught up to speed to where he needs to be just physically, in terms of movement and throwing the ball, Foles is a full go. The team had already used the 21-day window to help Foles shake the rust off, and this week the focus is simply on preparing for the Colts.
“And then we just started putting him on the move, doing a bunch of different things and he’s up to speed as far as where he should be physically, and throwing and all of that,” Marrone continued. “So, we’re not going into this week limiting anything that he should do.”
A lot has changed for the Jaguars since Foles last took a snap. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II took his place in the lineup and went 4-4 as a starter, while wide receiver DJ Chark elevated his game and made an argument for being considered one of the AFC’s top receivers.
The Jaguars offense also changed with the mobile Minshew. Instead of sitting in the pocket and letting routes develop downfield, the offense was tasked with extending plays and beating teams horizontally. Now, the offense will likely revert back to what it looked like during organized team activities and training camp, when the playbook was designed strictly for Foles.
For Chark, the reintroduction of Foles to the starting huddle on Monday was something he welcomed. But he also noted the obvious: things are different now than they were before, and it will be a learning process.
Luckily, Chark said, the veteran Foles is a team-oriented leader who makes it a priority to learn along with his wide receivers. Chark said the two already had good chemistry in training camp, and he is excited to grow with Foles and let that blossom.
“I feel like I am a little more advanced than where I was, but still in the process of learning every day,” Chark said Monday. “(Foles) is always a guy that is willing to teach. So you know, with him stepping back in it feels like going back to training camp and still learning different things and different nuances every day.”
For the Jaguars, the hope is Foles will be able to play on Sunday like a quarterback who hasn’t been away from the field too long. And that mindset will continue this week in practice as the team prepares him for the Colts game without any thoughts of limiting him.