Football Season Is Back
The Jaguars opened up their initial training camp practice in front of a decent crowd that braved the scorching sun at the new Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.
"I told the team that the big thing in the sky (the sun) may not seem like it's your friend now, but it will be your friend in a few weeks," Jack Del Rio said of getting his group used to the sweltering temperatures. "I hope it's hotter tonight and hotter tomorrow and even hotter the next day."
The Jaguars eased into their training camp as they hosted a no-pads, no-hitting type of practice. It may not be all that exciting for the fans, but safety is the primary issue at this point in the season.
Speaking of safety, tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Jarett Dillard were put on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list for precautionary reasons due to injuries to their lower extremities, according to Coach Del Rio. The team's leading wide receiver from a season ago, Mike Sims-Walker also sat out the morning session for precautionary reasons.
"We're just being smart," Sims-Walker said. "He (Jack Del Rio) decided I should just practice once a day, training camp takes a toll on your body, it's a lot of running and grinding so we're just being smart with it."
One player that did participate was wide receiver Nate Hughes, who is trying to earn a roster spot in a wide open competition at the wide receiver position.
"I'm just excited to be back and play football, it's a great feeling," Hughes said. "I just want to make the team and have a great season.
Hughes was feeling great after the first play of 11-on-11 drills as he leaped over cornerback Derek Cox and brought down a juggling catch next to the sideline.
"It was a back-shoulder throw and I just went up and got it," Hughes explained.
Offensive highlights were few and far between as can be expected from the first practice of the year. The were a few fumbles by the quarterbacks, drops by some of the wide receivers, and false starts due to miscalculated snap counts.
Wide receiver Mike Thomas, trying to secure the role of number two receiver certainly looked the part in the morning practice session as he snared every pass thrown his way, and found open spaces in the Jags defense.
As for the Jags defense, 2008 first-round draft pick Derrick Harvey looked lightning fast off the edge and he and fellow Florida Gator Jeremy Mincey were consistently defeating the Jaguars offensive tackles. The prize of the Jaguars free agent class, defensive end Aaron Kampman participated in some individual drills and will be more than a spectator in the evening practice session.
"Two-a-days they don't want me to do," Kampman said. "That's a decision they made. I usually do the evening. The morning was a light day just to kind of get out there on the first day."
Overall, it was slightly more than a "getting acquainted" type of workout as the young players tried to become accustomed to the heat, the playbook and the Jaguar way of doing things.
"I think what I'm most excited about is the overall attitude of the football team, coaches and players, as we enter camp," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said following practice. "It's never been stronger in my eight years here."
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