To the surprise of nobody, one can not say Gardner Minshew isn't approaching his third training camp with an itch to compete at the highest level -- even with the looming presence of No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence.
"In preparation for the competition, I haven't taken a s--- in weeks. Because No. 2 is not an option for me. No. 2 is not an option, I will tell you that," Minshew said on the 'Green Light with Chris Long' podcast this week.
"I feel like anybody that comes in and thinks that is an option, that is what they are going to get."
Minshew has entered each training camp of his career with different expectations but there has never been a scenario like the one he is currently in. As a rookie, he competed for the backup role behind Nick Foles. As a second-year player, he was the unquestioned starter entering training camp and throughout the first half of the season.
But now, Minshew is seen by many externally as more of a candidate for the No. 2 job than the starting role due to the Jaguars' drafting of Lawrence with the draft's top pick in August. But at the same time, the Jaguars have yet to name a starting quarterback and Minshew is entering camp with a complete focus on unlocking his potential.
"I know the work I put in, I trust that. I am ready as I can be. So I mean, it doesn't matter outside of that. You know, I am fired up because I like how I play right now," Minshew told Long.
Minshew dazzled as a rookie starter in 2019, going 6-6 as a starter while completing 60.6% of his passes for 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. He opened 2020 as the Jaguars' unquestioned starter but went 1-6 in the season's first seven weeks as the offense torpedoed each week.
Following the team's Week 8 bye, the Jaguars revealed that Minshew had disclosed a thumb injury that occurred several weeks prior. Minshew would be either inactive or the team's backup for the next six weeks, though he did start in a Week 15 loss against the Baltimore Ravens.
Minshew ended 2020 with a 66.1% completion rate for 2,259 yards (6.9 yards per attempt), 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions. But while his numbers were far and away the best among the Jaguars' three starting passers in 2020, the Jaguars' 1-15 season still led the team directly to new head coach Urban Meyer and subsequently Lawrence.
Along with Meyer came a completely new offensive staff outside of offensive line coach George Warhop. Minshew will now enter his third training camp with his third different offensive coordinator and third different position coach, with Darrell Bevell replacing Jay Gruden and John DeFilippo and Brian Schottenheimer replacing Ben McAdoo and Scott Milanovich before him.
And while there has been a constant sea of change in terms of scheme and coaching, this year's change is one Minshew is clearly excited about.
"I am fired up, man. Coach Bev[ell], he is awesome," Minshew told Long.
"Everyone does basically the same stuff, you know, it is going to be who calls it different in the game. You know, one thing we have been working [is] some more of the spread [and] RPO stuff, which I love. Like that is so much fun to me. It is how the game is supposed to be played. So I think doing that is coming along and is going to be a big help for us as well."
Minshew will compete for a role on the depth chart and ultimately the 53-man roster over the course of camp, with the expectation for most to be for him to win the team's No. 2 quarterback job over free agent addition C.J. Beathard.
While Lawrence is expected to be the Week 1 starter by the mass consensus, the Jaguars have yet to officially proclaim Minshew as either Lawrence's backup or as a candidate to push Lawrence as a starter.
"But you know, we’re not in a position where we’re saying 1, 2, 3, 4. We’re letting them all roll, everybody is getting reps, we want this thing to be really competitive," Scottenheimer said in June.
"Ultimately, when we name a starter, we’ll name a starter. Urban will do that when he’s ready, but I’ve just enjoyed watching these guys compete."
One key piece of Minshew's pursuit of reps this fall will be the plays he takes snaps with on offense in practice. Minshew will be unlikely to get much time with the first-team offense once Lawrence is settled in as the clear incumbent starter, giving Minshew a chance to build chemistry with the team's second and third-string offenses.
Among those players Minshew will have to be on the same page with? New tight end Tim Tebow, who is entering his first training camp in eight years and his first camp ever as a tight end.
And while the signing of Tebow by Meyer and the Jaguars drew raised eyebrows from across the league and national media, Minshew has been impressed with his new teammate's presence and drive.
"Dude, every day. It is so cool. Like, dude I threw him a touchdown and just, the best thing ever. I was going crazy just yelling 'Tebow Touchdown'. I had his jersey growing up," Minshew said. "It is so cool man. You meet him and he is everything you want him to be and more, like it is so cool."
Whether Tebow makes the Jaguars' roster is a question that truly only Meyer knows, but there has been zero doubt in Jacksonville about Tebow's desire to make the switch from quarterback to tight end. And so far, he has a clear supporter in his new quarterback and one of his former fans.
"He is attacking special teams drills, he is attacking every drill, he is running drill to drill. Everything is high energy with him," Minshew told Long.
"He is a guy that just genuinely wants it man and it is awesome to see."