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A good mini-camp

Posted May 6, 2012

WR Justin Blackmon held out of final practice of rookie mini-camp with sore foot.

The Jaguars held their final practice of 2012 rookie mini-camp Sunday without their first-round draft selection.

Justin Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, missed the final workout of the Jaguars’ three-day rookie minicamp Sunday because of general soreness in his right foot, Head Coach Mike Mularkey said.

Mularkey called the move precautionary.

“We saw what we needed to see,” Mularkey said Sunday, minutes after the last of four mini-camp practices held at EverBank Field over the weekend. “We got a good chance to install and be around him, and him be around us. We just thought it would be smart on our part and on his part if we held him out of the drills and had him ready when OTAs start here in about eight days.”

Blackmon, a wide receiver from Oklahoma State, participated in the first three practices. He attended the first part of Sunday’s work, but left before the end of practice.

“He was just sore and we just felt like, ‘Was it worth the risk? Why push it any more?’’’ Mularkey said, adding that he’s optimistic that Blackmon’s situation isn’t serious.

Mularkey said he liked what he saw not only from Blackmon over the weekend, but from all 50 players participating, a group that included six drafted players, 17 undrafted free agents and 27 workout invitees.

Mularkey, too, said each of the players drafted last weekend – Blackmon, Clemson defensive end Andre Branch, California punter Bryan Anger, Nevada linebacker Brandon Marshall, FSU cornerback Mike Harris and Ashland defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton – stood out at times.

“I certainly could tell why we have them in here and why we drafted them,” he said.

Mularkey said Harris looked good at times at nickel corner, and that Marshall looked good in special teams drills. Pendleton also was impressive inside, Mularkey said.

“I’m anxious to see what they do when they come back in here with the veterans,” Mularkey said.

Of Blackmon specifically, Mularkey said while he may have been thinking a bit too much at times over the weekend “because of all the newness,” he adapted well to playing with three new quarterbacks.

“He’ll get faster in everything he does,” Mularkey said.

Mularkey said having been in a variety of NFL camps in 19 years, he was struck by the quality of the group overall. He said the scouts and front office signed many of the players they targeted following the draft last weekend, and it showed.

“There was a general concern among coaches around the league trying to sign quality players to come in here and compete for a job,” Mularkey said.”I’ll tell you – it was very impressive how these guys came in here and did everything we asked them to do. I hope every group is like that.

“It was outstanding how they came in here prepared and did everything we asked them to do, and did it right. They did everything. Usually, that’s not the case when you bring in 50 brand news guys.”

He also said there’s a chance two-to-five players from the workout group could be signed to the team’s 90-player roster in the coming days.

“We’re definitely going to talk about that,” he said.

Mularkey said the Jaguars would like to get workout guys signed quickly to solidify the roster and let the players have an idea about expectations and roles.

“We’re always trying to find the next best guy at every position,” he said.

Mularkey offered no specifics on which workout players could be signed, although he said Saturday that with kicker Josh Scobee not having signed his franchise tender one of the two workout kickers – Long Ding of Norwich and Jay Wooten of South Carolina – could be signed.

Mularkey also said the team will discuss whether to sign one of the three workout quarterbacks – three-year NFL veteran Jordan Palmer, Jacksonville quarterback Josh McGregor and former West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown.

“I thought for the most part they did a good job of functioning at the huddle and line of scrimmage, which is easier said than done,” Mularkey said.

Mularkey also said the backs in camp performed well, as did Florida A&M wide receiver Kevin Elliott, Liberty wide receiver Mike Brown, Ohio State center Mike Brewster and South Carolina State linebacker Donovan Richard.

Mularkey, who originally was a ninth-round selection in the 1983 NFL Draft by San Francisco, after the final practice gathered the players and thanked them for their work. He told the workout invitees his story, how he was released by San Francisco before going on to a nine-year NFL career.

 Mularkey told them not to let the results of the weekend necessarily be a gauge of if they can or cannot play, telling them, “If you think you can, good things may happen.”

“I told them how impressed we were with how they came in here,” Mularkey said. “They had an opportunity, and I think a lot of them took advantage of it. I told them we appreciated their effort, and wished them luck.

“Some of them will go to camps next week. Now, they know what to expect and the guys who will be signed to our 90 or are here on our 90 will know what to expect next week.”

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