The Jacksonville Jaguars have been on the field for 2020 training camp in some capacity or another since July 28 now. But Wednesday was the first day media was allowed to attend and observe as the NFL continues to implement COVID-19 safety protocols. With the first open practice concluded, here are five observations and notes from the morning period.
Ramp Up Period in Full Effect…
- The NFL and NFLPA's agreed-upon protocols for training camp this fall stretch each portion over a greater number of days. It’s called the ramp-up period and allows teams more flexibility in how they progress in case of COVID-19 positive outbreaks. This morning’s practice resembled more of an OTA. With a month and a day until the season kicks off, players are still focusing on conditioning and agility drills. Any balls thrown were on air, there was no tackling and as much individual work was done as possible. As such, most observations were more about individuals than anything this group will do as a team as of yet.
…As Are COVID-19 Protocols
- Each team has been pushing their club’s adaptions of the COVID-19 safety protocols. After a month of the message, it can understandably sound like lip service. But at Wednesday morning’s practice, the Jaguars showed they were wholly following each and every safety step that could be taken. Most practices see guys tossing water bottles to each other, sharing them around since that’s the easiest thing. But now, no player touches anything that another one has already grabbed. Trainers switch gloves between each activity and some players even elected to wear masks during drills. No one was allowed to touch anything that a player might touch. Playing this season amidst a pandemic will undoubtedly prove to be difficult. But it’s the little steps like those seen at the Jaguars practice field that will help make it not only possible but safer for everyone involved.
Schobert Instantly Makes Linebacker Corps Better
- It could (easily) be argued that linebacker Joe Schobert was one of the Jaguars' biggest and best offseason moves. Seeing him on the field with his new unit reinforced the thought. Not only is his footwork incredibly smooth and light, but he gives the corps a heartbeat. After a season in which every starting linebacker missed time at some point with injury, having more constancy will be huge. But more so, after a season in which Myles Jack was shoehorned into a position that coaches admit didn’t best utilize his skills and personality, having Schobert in the middle has given the unit direction. He confidently led them through the morning, quite like he prefers, but never wavering when he did have to speak. He’s clearly their leader and it changes the look of the entire unit.
The Same Goes for Eifert and Tight Ends
- The same thing can be said for Tyler Eifert and the tight end group. With James O’Shaughnessy off the PUP (Active/Physically Unable to Perform) list and back at practice for the first time, it was a crowded unit. Second-year Josh Oliver continues to improve as coaches spend time walking him through any misstep. But it was Eifert who was consistently used as an example of how to do something correctly.
Hamilton's Potential Warrants Attention Among Rookies
- With 26 new rookies on the field for practice, they made up just over a third of the guys on the field. Some were bound to stand out. DaVon Hamilton was at or near the top. One can’t help but notice him at 6-foot-4, 320-pounds. He’s a giant, but with a stature that holds itself as fit. He’s deceptively quick. In every drill seen, his first twitch seemed instinctual and his burst—and more so his bend—matched that of someone half his size. If the Jaguars get into a situation where they’re without Abry Jones, Hamilton has the potential to surprise a lot of opponents as a rookie on the defensive line.
Other Notes and Tidbits:
- Jaguars haven’t added a new player to the Reserve/COVID-19 list since Sunday, August 2. Four new additions to the roster however are still going through the initial COVID testing and must complete the full week before being allowed to practice; they are defensive lineman Josh Mauro, cornerback Tramaine Brock, defensive tackle Carl Davis and defensive lineman Caraun Reid.
- James O'Shaughnessy (knee) returned to practice on Wednesday and is no longer on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.
- Defensive end/Outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson has a minor hamstring issue and worked off to the side with the team’s performance staff.
- Thursday’s practice will add an additional 15 minute period as the ramp-up system progresses.