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What We Learned: Pre-Training Camp Edition

Posted Jul 24, 2013

What We Learned from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ pre-2013 training camp media availability Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE – Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ pre-training camp media availability Tuesday:

1) Maurice Jones-Drew is healthy . . . The three-time Pro Bowl running back has been cleared to practice Friday. That’s the biggest news.

2). . . but after that? Jones-Drew likely will be brought along slowly to start camp. That’s not surprising, nor is it alarming. He just finished rehabbing from significant foot surgery. Being smart with him is . . . well, smart. He is an eight-year veteran and he knows what he needs to do to prepare. If he’s cleared now, he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener. That’s Priority One.

3) Jones-Drew likes what he sees. This echoes a lot of what we’ve heard all offseason from Jaguars veterans, but Jones-Drew was pretty effusive Tuesday on liking the approach of Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell. “It’s not necessarily stressing on how you’re doing, but they just want to see how you are as a person and how you are feeling, not necessarily football wise, but more of how is your life and family,” he said. “I also understand it’s a business and it’s going to come to a point where you’re not going to be able to play football anymore, because you get too old or not good enough, but to have that initial contact that they care more about you than you just being a commodity, that definitely helps out a bunch.”

 4) Johnathan Cyprien is not healthy . . . If there was a surprise Tuesday, this was it. The rookie second-round safety was a star in the offseason, but he sustained a hamstring injury training last week and will start training camp on the reserve Non-Football Injury list.

5). . . but that could be a blip. Bradley said the expectation is that Cyprien could begin practicing by next week. The Jaguars begin practicing in pads Wednesday, so if Cyprien is back around then, he won’t miss much.

TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW PHOTOS

6) Justin Blackmon will start training camp on PUP. This wasn’t a huge surprise, but the second-year wide receiver will be unable to practice when training camp begins. He underwent groin surgery in early July, and although he provided no timetable, Bradley indicated Tuesday his return likely will come later than Cyprien’s. Rookie guard Stephane Milhim and veteran wide receiver Taylor Price also will start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

7) Gus Bradley is excited about camp. Not that you’d expect any different, but the infectious energy the first-year head coach brought to his first four months on the job carried through summer vacation. “I really love our atmosphere, and our mindset going into training camp,” he said.

8) The theme is the same. As was the case all offseason, and as likely will be the case as long as Bradley has any say about it, the theme is competition, which means getting better. All day, every day. “That’s my goal, is to stay consistent with our message,” he said. “We have a goal with our team, is to get better, and we trust the results will come. I’m going to try to stay strong with that mindset with our team.”

9) Jason Babin has been cleared to practice. Like Jones-Drew, the projected starter at the Leo position has been medically cleared, but could be brought along slowly early in camp. Like Jones-Drew, that’s not really a big deal. Babin’s a 10-year veteran. He knows how to get himself ready.

10) The quarterback competition is real . . . Bradley spent plenty of time on this Tuesday. Bottom line: there’s no timetable on the competition, and there’s a chance both Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne could start in the preseason. Bradley said that while reps may not be divided equally between Gabbert, Henne, Mike Kafka and Matt Scott, all will get a chance to compete.

11) Offensive line depth is a priority . . . Bradley said a training camp issue is finding a sixth or seventh offensive lineman who can rotate and play some guard. The Jaguars’ offensive line generally is projected to start left tackle Eugene Monroe, left guard Will Rackley, center Brad Meester, right guard Uche Nwaneri and right tackle Luke Joeckel, with Cameron Bradfield likely backing up both tackles.  Mike Brewster is a possibility to compete with Rackley or to back up center and guard.

12) . . . so is defensive back, linebacker depth and pass rush.  Bradley said there will be competition at cornerback, as well as for roster spots at linebacker. He also said the team needs to find pass rush beyond Babin. He also said players need to “step up at the receiver position.”

13) Fresh legs and health matter. The Jaguars will practice at 9:55, with a long afternoon of meetings – 2 p.m. until about 5 p.m. – scheduled each day. “The whole reason behind this is to really get our players off their feet,” Bradley said. “We think it’s going to be an advantage health-wise. We’re looking for extended recovery.”

14) It’s football season again. The offseason is over. Veterans report Thursday. Practice starts the next day. It’s the 2013 season. At last.

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