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Inside Training Camp, Day 9

Posted Aug 6, 2012

Senior writer John Oehser takes a look inside Day 9 of the Jaguars 2012 Training Camp

BLACKMON AGREES TO TERMS

Justin Blackmon’s holdout appears to be over.

Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2012 NFL Draft, has agreed to terms, and is expected to sign his rookie contract later Monday or Tuesday. Details of the contract were not disclosed.

Blackmon, a wide receiver from Oklahoma State, spent organized team activities and minicamp with the team, but has missed the first nine days of training camp because he had not signed his contract. The team had wanted safeguards in the contract protecting it if Blackmon had further off-field issues.

He is the last first-round selection in the 2012 draft unsigned.

When Blackmon signs, it will mean all 90 players on the team’s active roster will be in camp. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew remains out of camp on the reserve/did not report list.

 

MOVING OVER

John Estes said he doesn’t mind the move, and in fact, he welcomes the chance.

Estes, the Jaguars’ backup center, worked extensively with the starting lineup at guard Monday morning during the team’s padded practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

Estes, a three-year veteran from Hawaii, said he worked at guard at times this past off-season during organized team activities, and the team worked him with the starters Monday in the wake of injuries to starting guard Will Rackley (high-ankle sprain) and reserve Jason Spitz (sprained foot).

“It’s exciting,” Estes said. “It’s something different for me.”

Estes, who spent 2010 on injured reserve, played two games last season as the backup to starting center Brad Meester.

“In a way it’s kind of easier, because you’re not worrying about the calls,” Estes said of guard. “You just play and block your guys. The more versatility the better. It’s whatever the team needs. I’m just glad they feel I can fill that position for them.”

The first week and a half of camp hasn’t been easy for the Jaguars’ offensive line, with injuries to not only Spitz and Rackley, but guard Uche Nwaneri and tackle Eugene Monroe.

“The negative is you can’t get any continuity among those guys,” Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. “Communication is so important with everything you do, and really sometimes you know what the guy next to you is going to do without having to talk to him once you get a feel for each other. We haven’t had time to put five guys together.

“The positive is some guys have had to step up and play in some roles. If it happens during the season, at least they’ve had time with the ones. They’ve had time with the cadence. They’ve had time with the guy next to them, so there is some positive out of it.

“We’d certainly like to get them together as quickly as we can for everybody’s sake.”

 

MULARKEY SAYS

“It (practice) was better (Monday) than yesterday. I thought it would be. It was better tempo, better execution. I didn’t like the number penalties in the two-minute drill, especially when we got the ball down in the red zone. That was not something we can afford to do, and I addressed that. But it was much better tempo. They weren’t dragging as much today.”

 

WHAT WE SAW

Mularkey said practice improved from Sunday, and while he said there were parts of the practice that still needed to get better, it was a step forward. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert worked the ball to running back Rashad Jennings and wide receiver Mike Thomas during a team drill midway through practice before Will Middleton intercepted him late in a team drill. Mike Harris also had an interception off Gabbert. Backup quarterback Chad Henne appeared to get more work than he had in recent days, and had a solid stretch in a team drill midway through practice when he completed back-to-back passes to wide receiver Lee Evans and a touchdown in the back of the end zone to Kevin Elliott. Third quarterback Jordan Palmer also had one of his better days of practice, completing a pair of passes to Taylor Price in team work later in the practice. Jennings continued to run well, and broke away for a 25-yard run early in practice.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

Training camp continues with the normal schedule Tuesday, with a padded practice from 8:30-11 a.m. and a 4:30 afternoon walkthrough. Practices are closed to the public.

 

TODAY’S TAKE

Credit Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski for his honesty Monday, and really, you can credit the entire coaching staff under Mularkey in that area so far. Bratkowski on Monday spoke to the media as a group for the first time in this year’s training camp, and while he said he liked the improvement being made by Gabbert, he said the passing game as a whole wasn’t yet very good. Bratkowski and Mularkey have thus far been very open about the need for the receivers to improve, and that willingness to be forthcoming has allowed those who are listening closely throughout camp a pretty accurate assessment of camp. The coaches like what they have seen thus far from Gabbert. While he is making mistakes at times, overall he is showing the progress you want from a second-year player who needed work on fundamentals and mechanics. What is needed is for the receiving corps to make steadier progress and make plays when given a chance. The group is starting to get open more consistently. Now, as the receivers get more comfortable with the offense, it’s time for fewer drops. The coaches can’t predict when that’s going to happen, but they’ve been pretty open about the importance of the situation.

 

QUICK HITS

*Former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, was at practice Monday, and will be with the team this week shadowing Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith and the team’s scouting department. Taylor retired last August after 13 NFL seasons.

*Bratkowski said he likes what he has seen practice thus far in training camp from Jennings. “I’ve been impressed,” he said of Jennings. “He came in in good shape. He showed a physical side of running to him in the scrimmage that I wasn’t sure I was going to see.”

*Bratkowski on the training camp absence of Jones-Drew and Blackmon: “It really hasn’t been any different. To be honest you, I haven’t once gotten on the field and thought, ‘Geez, I wish Maurice was here,’ or, ‘I wish Blackmon was here.’ We’re so focused on the other guys out there that that hasn’t even come in. Now, when we’re sitting in the office talking, ‘Yeah, it’d be nice to have them here,’ because they’re both way, way behind. It’s going to hurt them, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

*As the Jaguars enter their second full week of training camp, the following players remained out of the full-pad morning session: linebacker Daryl Smith (groin), defensive end Austen Lane (foot), safety Jeremiah Brown (concussion), Spitz and Rackley. Running back Richard Murphy returned after missing practice Sunday. Linebacker Clint Session (head) and defensive end John Chick (knee) remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

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