Charlie's Mini-Camp Observations

Football is back, sort of. Just a week after the draft, nearly 1,600 loyal Jaguars fans braved the 90 degree temperatures to watch their Jacksonville Jaguars take the field for the first time in nearly five months.



"Great to be outside, great to be working, getting out on the grass, a beautiful day for it, the fans came out, nice to see, and kick off our 2010 season," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said.

Off the field

- The fan support was great and the team looked like they had an extra bounce in their collective steps.

- Greg Jones, Aaron Kampman and Zach Miller were all inactive. Jones and Kampman still "rehabbing" according to head coach Jack Del Rio, and Miller had some sort of foot issue which caused him to miss the afternoon session.

Offense

It's easier to elaborate on the offensive side of the ball in these non-contact camps as the passing game is the only thing that resembles actual play.

Quarterbacks

- All three quarterbacks were rusty and shaky in spots which can be expected after a five month layoff. Starter David Garrard looked fantastic throwing the short slant routes as every single pass hit the receivers between the numbers. Garrard struggled throwing outs, as the timing was off with his receivers. Garrard was also shaky on longer throws and was vocal with his receivers.

- Backup quarterback Luke McCown showed a very strong arm through much of the practice and was accurate on out patterns and seam throws. It was the first chance we had to see McCown practice and the 6'4" gunslinger was impressive. McCown showed an ability to throw the ball downfield with good accuracy which was especially impressive as he hasn't had many reps with his receivers.

"David's the starter," McCown said when asked about his short-term goals for this season. "That means I've got to be ready to play if called upon, one way or the other. With that said, that doesn't keep me from competing. When I get a rep, when I get on the field, I go at it like I'm the starter. That's the way I've always prepared, and I've always said if I don't prepare that way, I'm doing a disservice to my teammates who are out there. They deserve someone to be prepared and ready to play and help them win a ball game."

Undrafted rookie Trevor Harris from Edinboro College worked mostly with the running backs and tight ends. He showed a quick set up and release, but struggled when throwing the football down field.

Running backs

- It's difficult to gauge the running backs when there's no contact, but Maurice Jones-Drew looked to be in good shape and rookie Deji Karim looks like a smaller version of Jones-Drew. Second-year player Rashad Jennings showed an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and showed very good feet and burst in situations.

Wide Receivers

- Mike Sims-Walker made the play of the day at practice when he jumped up and stabbed an errant David Garrard pass and reeled it in with one hand. The former UCF star ran excellent routes and seems to have put on weight in his upper body which should help him beat jams better this year. Sims-Walker looked the part of a number one receiver and will be depended on to do so during the season.

"Torry taught us a lot last year and now it's on me to step up and be the number one," Sims-Walker said following practice.

- Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard showed suddenness and solid hands throughout the day and Thomas abused rookie Scotty McGee on a double-move in one-on-one drills.

- Free agent acquisition Kassim Osgood looks the part of an impressive red zone target as the 6'5", 220 lb. target uses his body well to shield off defenders. Still, Osgood doesn't look like he'll ever be a consistent target as he runs awkwardly and is an unaccomplished route runner.

- Troy Williamson is the enigma of the group as he runs routes like a true number one receiver, but still doesn't look comfortable catching the football. After an early drop, Williamson caught everything thrown his way.

- Tiquan Underwood had a dreadful performance as he dropped about half the throws that went in his direction. Nate Hughes made a few nice plays, rookie Chris McGaha showed great hands all afternoon long, and try-out player Rocky Ross showed an ability to get open and catch the football, despite once losing a shoe during a play.

Tight Ends

The tight ends were mostly involved in individual drills, but Marcedes Lewis looks very impressive physically, caught everything thrown his way and appears to be poised for a huge season.

Defense (by Alfie Crow)

Defensively, there isn't a lot to tell in mini-camp. The only real noticeable thing was the complete overhaul on the defensive side of the ball. Tyson Alualu was plugged in with the first team right away and showed his explosion off the snap of the ball, without any pads mind you. Kirk Morrison was vocal in the middle of the defense barking out the calls and changing the plays, making sure everyone was lined up correctly on the defense. One interesting thing however, was that Reggie Nelson never worked with the first team defense. As I said, it's only Day One, but that will be an interesting storyline to watch as the off-season progresses. The safeties with the first team defense were Gerald Alexander and Anthony Smith, both of which were acquired last season.

Normally I would like to do a rookie report during mini-camp, but all of the draft picks but one were on the defensive side of the ball. All I can really say, is that Alualu and D'Anthony Smith are explosive off the snap, and Austen Lane is a giant man. A free agent rookie to keep an eye on is Norfolk State safety Terell Whitehead. He intercepted a Luke McCown pass during what was supposed to be one-on-one drills. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker told him to jump the route if he could on the play, which Whitehead did, and was abruptly met with a "Hey man! Not fair!" by the intercepted quarterback.

Overall it was nice to see the team return to action and Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio claims that he has the types of attitudes that he likes in the locker room to play football, "the Jaguar way."

"The paradigm of how we're doing things has changed over the last two years," Del Rio said. "We aren't going to tolerate things that aren't done with the intent of helping us win a championship."


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