Over four thousand people attended training camp on Monday night. Many of which had come to watch the Oklahoma drill matchups.
1. The punting teams (coverage and return) began first. Kicking from right to left, Podlesh nailed a 65-70 yard punt that drew ooohs and aahhhs from the crowd. Moments later, with the punting team backed up to their own 3 yard line, rookie WR D'Juan Woods rushed in and blocked a Podlesh punt. Considering Podlesh had never had a blocked punt during his entire career at Maryland
, I'm sure that was a bit of a shock. Meanwhile, the undrafted Woods had to make a positive early impression. If he continues contributing on special teams in that manner, he will improve his chances of making the team. Jackson De Ville got a few chuckles by attempting to field a punt or two.
2. Next came the highly publicized and anticipated Oklahoma drill. Here are my takes on the various matchups, in order.
A) Rookie LB Justin Durant v. TE Marcedes Lewis-The first matchup went to Lewis. Durant appeared to jump left and got twisted right. However, Durant won the second drill. While he got pushed back. He did disengage from Lewis' block and made the tackle on RB D.D. Terry, losing his helmet in the process.
B) DT Terry McDaniel v. OT Richard Collier-despite jumping offsides and having to get back, I'd say McDaniel won the first matchup. While he didn't make the tackle, he did get very good pad level, getting under Collier's pads and getting decent movement. However, Collier won the second matchup.
C) Rookie G Uche Nwaneri v. DT Rob Meier-the first matchup was pretty much a stalemate, though if based solely upon whether Meier tackled the RB, then Nwaneri won. He really didn't get any movement against Meier. The second round went to Nwaneri. Meier executed a good swim move over Nwaneri's left shoulder, but the rookie rode him out while the RB went right.
D) G Vince Manuwai v. Rookie DT Derek Landri. I would say this was the most lopsided matchup. Manuwai won both, getting backwards movement against the rookie on both instances. Manuwai lost his helmet on the second one.
E) The Jaguars are getting really good at this Oklahoma drill. The last matchup featured a bit of a dramatic pause as the last matchup was announced. You heard the coaches say something..TONY PASHOS!!!...Then suddenly new RT Tony Pashos walks slowly to the area. The crowd is stoked. Then another pause. Everyone wondered who he would go against. Decisions...decisions...! Suddenly, John Henderson slowly walks to the area. WHOA!!!!! The crowd goes nuts! Before lowering into their stances, they seem to look at each other as if to say "Let's do this!" Two starters, and two of the biggest, most powerful guys on the team would square off. Now, we see the results of Henderson's dominance in the trenches, and you hear JDR talk about him actually controlling THREE gaps, but there is typically so much going on during a game, you don't get a sense of just how powerful he is. His matchup with Pashos and the intimacy of the camp setting provided that insight.. At the snap, there was very little shoulder pad popping/hitting. They engaged, and Henderson got a strong hand punch into Pashos' chest. Henderson was able to extend and lock his arms out, essentially bending Pashos back and keeping him at arms length. He was able to disengage and get an arm on the RB who ran pretty wide to the right. By no means was Pashos bad in the drill. I think he aquitted himself well. But Henderson is just that powerful and agile.
3. If there were ever any doubt in your mind the crowd can have a positive effect on the players, it should be erased if you went to camp. After the Oklahoma drill, the team clapped into its callisthenics. As the team clapped, the crowd clapped and stomped with them. The players seemed genuinely and pleasantly surprised by this, as many had big smiles on their faces as a result. Though I have no hard numbers readily available to bear this out, it appeared to me this crowd was larger than last year's. The guys on the radio this morning said there were about 4,000 in attendance. The players and coaches interviewed made special mention of the fans in attendance. Early indications from the calls to the radio shows indicate fans were stoked about the camp. There were so many people there, that some had resorted to standing on the bottom stairs of the bleachers, enough so they were an obstruction to those sitting at the bottom. There were very loud cheers for many of the players as they entered the field, including Reggie Nelson
, Maurice Drew, and Leftwich. Even the JFD had a few ladder trucks parked just outside, with firefighters perched on top of their trucks, giving them a good vantage point to view the action. Unfortunately for them (not to mention the person(s) who were in need of their help) they received a call and had to leave. "Babeage" was also plentiful there. Ketchman often talks about the team establishing tradition here. It appears the first padded practice of training camp as well as the scrimmage is fast becoming a good offseason tradition. Now if only it would translate into ticket sales.
4. The signing of Tim Couch
has been the subject of mini controversy here in Jacksonville. His signing has been almost universally panned here. Some has gone so far as to say he was the token white QB who has no legitimate shot at making the team. JDR has indicated he was just a camp arm. That said, I thought Tim Couch actually looked pretty good last night. He stood tall, had a nice, compact delivery, and was accurate for most of the night. However, there was almost nothing on his passes. Nevertheless, once he learns the offense, I think if he continues to perform as he did last night, he just might turn some heads.
5. Pat Thomas was penciled in as an early starter last year and got injured. Clint Ingram
eventually came in and performed quite well, and I had all but written Pat Thomas off. If last night's performance was any indicia, I was premature to reach that conclusion. Thomas was all over the place last night, coming up with the biggest hits. He seems to have been reinstalled as the starting SLB.
6. Among the 9x9 highlights:
B) With the team moving right to left, Tim Couch threw a pass to the right to Broussard with Starks covering him. Broussard made a heckuva play. Broussard slipped on the play, falling down, but still managed to get up enough to break up the potential int and almost caught it himself.
C) Reggie Williams had a TD Deep over #39 down the left hand sideline. Later in the same drill, Reggie Williams got very good separation against Brian Williams on a square in. He seemed to set up the route beautifully, and may have even gotten a good yet subtle push off when he made his cut.
D) Matt Jones made a highlight reel catch reminiscent of his catch against Atlanta in the preseason of his rookie year. He ran deep down the left sideline, having no separation against Brian Williams. Garrard (?) Threw the ball up high. MJ climbed the ladder and snagged it down with one hand, with Williams virtually helpless to do anything.
F) The first fight of the evening happened between TE Greg Estandia and DE James Wyche. As far as football fights go, this was a pretty good one. Both guys threw some pretty good punches. I don't know what precipitated the fight.
7. The first 11 x 11 drill began with the first team offense v. the first team defense...with the offense moving right to left watching from the stands...
A) With 2 Wrs (Sharon and Northcutt) and 2 Tes, BL threw a screen left to FT. Henderson was in position to make a tackle pretty quickly if necessary.
B) In I formation, 1 TE, there was a dump off to Maurice Drew.
C) With 2 TE and 2 WR, BL would have been sacked hard by Stroud. But he threw a hook to the right to Sharon, but the pass was high.
D) With 2 WR to the left (MJ in slot), Drew had a run to the right.
8. This was followed by the 2nd team o v. 2nd team D. Offense moving left to right...
A) with 2 Wrs 1 TE, 2 Rbs, Greg Jones shiftd, becoming a slot WR to the left. Garrard threw a screen to Pearman, who was quickly blown up by Justin Durant.
B) With 2 Wrs (Walker and Broussard) and 2 Tes. Durant blitzed from the offensive right side and pressured Garrard. Garrard threw deep down the left sideline to TE Jermane Wiggins, only to have it broken up by Pat Thomas, who displayed very good range on the play. Later Pat Thomas broke up another pass, this time to TE Richard Angulo (#47).
9. The team broke up into smaller units. There was a WR vs. DB drill where Farris (#84) ran a crossing route from the right side of the "formation" to the left side, and Cough hit him in stride. But then my attention turned to pass protection drill, where RBs had to block blitzing Lbs. I picked up on this where they were simulating the blitz coming from the defensive left side.
A) Nick Griesen v. 35-Griesen executed a beautiful swim move and beat the blocker inside.
B) Justin Durant v. Fred Taylor-Durant took him head on, but Taylor absolutely walled him off.
C) Maurice Drew v. Mike Peterson-Drew blocked him
10. There was another 11 x 11 drill. The offense began moving left to right if you were watching.
A) Leftwich threw a pretty long TD to Marcedes Lewis. However, if the play unfolded like that in an actual game, BL would have gotten KILLED by Marcus Stroud, who came from the offensive right side to hit him.
B) Bobby McCray put a big hit on Drew running left, but Drew kept going. There was some debate whether Drew would have been down in a real game.
C) With 3 WR slot left, Brett Hawkins, who had a good night, would have hit DG. The next play, from I formation 2 Wrs 1 TE, Hawkins again made a tackle. Later, Hawkins, from LDE, beat Mo Williams.
11. In 7x7...
A) with 2 WR 2 RB and a TE, BL threw deep to Ernest Wilford against Rashean Mathis, but overthrew him because coverage was there.
B) with 3 WR Slot right in shotgun, BL threw a hook left to Drew. The next play, BL checked down to Drew.
C) 3 WR, with Pearman serving as the Z (far right), Garrard threw an underneath circle route to FB Greg Jones, who looks really good, BTW. Later, another 11 X 11, Jones had a long run where he made a couple of good cuts. Garrard, on the other hand, missed Mike Walker who gained nice separation on a hook to the left.
D) Lester Ricard made a nice completion to Angulo over the midle.
E) With 2 TE, 2 WR BL drilled a pass nicely to Greg Estandia down the right hash mark.
12. More 11 X 11 offense going right to left.....
A) 3 WR slot L, BL would have been KILLED by a blitzing Darryl Smith coming off the offensive right side.
B) 2 WR 2 TE, BL dumps off L to Greg Jones
C) Again BL probably would have been sacked, but hit he hit John Broussard deep on a post going from the left side for a TD. The db got tangled up with one of the coaches.
D) Garrard with 3 WR slot L, faced pressure from Brett hawkins, dumped the ball off to Greg Jones.
E) Garrard with 2 WRs and a IT hit Marcedes Lewis nicely on an in.
F) Garrard with 2 TE 2 WR with Northcutt at X and Broussard at Z threw complete to Broussard on an out to the right.
Then the first team offense returned against the first team defense.
G) With 2 WR v. 2 TE and Northcutt at X, BL dumped off left to Drew.
H) With 3 WR, clot L, Broussard at X, BL checked down to Drew. This play featured Drew with a solid, clearly audible chip on the RDE as Drew released into his route. Excellent play by MoJo.
I) After a play negated by a flase start by Khalif Barnes and BL getting on him/encouraging him, with 3 Wrs slot left, Greg Jones made the run I described above.
The 11 x 11 drills continued, this time the offense was going Left to Right...
J) 3 WR TE, slot L, BL out of the shotgun threw to Wiggins, who ran a hook on the right. The pass was broken up by Daryl Smith, creating a tip drill situation where the ball hung dangerously in the air, almost to be caught on the rebound by Pearman.
K) Me and the others around me (Marty had left by this time) just remarked that Reggie Nelson hadn't done much. Almost on cue, Nelson showed excellent closing speed and range in nearly picking off Leftwich. MJ was in the slot left and he ran an out. Coming from the hash, Nelson closed in a hurry and dropped a sure pick 6.
L) Leftwich forced a pass into triple coverage to MJ. He followed that play by checking down to Pearman.
M) The 2nd team came in,and after a draw to Maurice Drew, the next play saw the last fight of the evening. On a pass play, Derek Landri got good pressure, collapsing the pocket and essentially walking Stockar McDougle to the QB until the end, when McDougle finally threw Landri down and pinning him on his back and completely immobilizing him. After a couple of swings, a "flag" was thrown and the offense penalized 15 yards. McDougle was taken out.
N) Garrard attempted a pass to the right sideline to Estandia, but it was broken up nicely by Gattis, who closed quickly on the ball. Pat Thomas got really good pressure on the play.
O) Garrard threw a deep pass to Reggie Williams down the right sideline over Starks, and the next play threw a TD to Reggie Williams.
-Other general observations and notes
Durant played a lot in the nickel packages.
Lewis and Estandia had some very good practices.
Leftwich looked more nimble. Even some of his detractors were saying so this morning.
So far I have noticed a lot of check downs. Wilford was saying that was based on the presented coverage, but he echoed something Leftwich said a few months ago, saying the offense will make defenses pay for mistakes.
The safeties have a LOT of range and closing speed.