AREA OF FOCUS
As much good as happened Friday, Blaine Gabbert said improvement must be made, too.
Specifically, the Jaguars’ second-year quarterback said the offense has to reduce turnovers, and he said that starts with him.
Gabbert, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 62 yards and a touchdown in three series during a victory over the New York Giants in the preseason opener, led an 89-yard touchdown drive on the Jaguars’ first series. But the ensuing two drives ended with turnovers.
Wide receiver Cecil Shorts fumbled a reverse to start the second drive, and the starters’ third and final series ended when Gabbert was sacked and lost a fumble at the Jaguars 47.
“Those two turnovers that the number one offense (committed) led to points and you can’t afford those in the regular season,” Gabbert said. “We’ll correct those mistakes, protect the football and just kind of go about our business.”
Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said following the game Gabbert needed to protect the ball better on his fumble. Gabbert, who said the same thing Friday, reiterated the point Monday.
“I just got to protect it,” he said. “I got to feel them coming. My internal time clock has to be going off, going off, just check the ball right down, but yeah I’ve just got to keep two hands on the ball.”
Another area that needed improvement from Friday: special teams.
Special teams coach John Bonamego made it clear Monday speaking to the media after practice that a game such as Friday’s wasn’t acceptable.
While the Jaguars recovered two muffed punts against the Giants, returner Mike Brown also lost a fumble on a muffed punt and the coverage teams allowed a 48-yard kickoff return and a 20-yard punt return.
“I think there were things that were encouraging and things that obviously we have to work on,” Bonamego said. “We lost contain twice so there were some fundamental breakdowns. I think that everything that happens absolutely is one hundred percent totally correctable.”
Bonamego said Mike Thomas, Cecil Shorts and Aaron Ross are possibilities for punt returns, while the team is still auditioning kickoff returners, with running back Jalen Parmele and Richard Murphy possibilities.
“I’d love to have Rashad (Jennings) back there, but right now he’s taking all the reps at tailback so we can’t afford to put him back there at this time,” he said.
“When everybody is on the same page our offense clicks, and we saw that last week. When we’re on the same page we can go 90 yards on a defense and score touchdowns, and that’s what we’re just kind of working towards and striving towards each week.”
WHAT WE SAW
While the focus of practice was wide receiver Justin Blackmon’s first work with the Jaguars in full pads, the work early Monday was one of the most intense practices of training camp. Defensive coaches were particularly animated late in practice during a red-zone drill, and defensive end Aaron Morgan appeared to have yet another productive practice. At receiver, Brown, Thomas and Shorts had drops, as did tight end Zach Miller. Wide receiver Kevin Elliott had one of the most impressive receptions of training camp, tipping the ball to himself over a defender and making a diving catch in bounds for a 20-yard gain. Tight end Matt Veldman also continued to play well, catching a long pass from Chad Henne in the morning practice, with Brian Robiskie following up a productive game Friday with several catches in the morning. Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley and rookie center Mike Brewster also got into a small scuffle near the end of practice, but it was broken up quickly.
Training camp continues with its normal schedule Tuesday, with a practice with full pads from 8:30-11 a.m. and an afternoon walkthrough. Practices are closed to the public.
We’re not going to keep harping on the leg strength of punter Bryan Anger, but a scene at the end of practice Monday sort of sums up his training camp – not to mention the impact the team feels the rookie from California will make. As the players left the field after the morning practice, Anger stood at his own 40-yard line and punted balls toward the other end zone. He hit somewhere between 7 to 10 punts, and after his approach, he was kicking from his own 43. On at least half of the punts, the kick sailed between the opposite uprights, 67 yards away. One of the punts sailed through the uprights and landed 15 feet high on the net. As he left the field, safety Courtney Greene and several others watched, and as he walked away, Greene smiled and said, “Are you kidding me?” Asked later if he had ever seen a punter in a scene like it, he replied, “Never.” One of the Jaguars’ top special teams players, Greene smiled. “Advantage us,” he said.
*Mularkey on Sunday said he believes second-year right tackle Cameron Bradfield will improve given time to play one position. The team played him at guard, left tackle and right tackle in the preseason opener, but he worked with the first team at right tackle Monday. Gabbert said Bradfield did a good job on Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck Friday, and while Bradfield allowed Tuck to pressure Gabbert on the Jaguars’ first play, overall coaches believed he played well. “I thought I did OK,” Bradfield said. “Definitely, there were plays I wish that I could have back out there. For that being the first preseason game, I think I did OK. I’m just trying to be a student of the game right now, and learn as many positions as I can.”
*Wide receiver Demetrius Williams and offensive guard/center Josh Beekman each worked in shorts Monday, a day after joining the roster. They will be able to work full later in the week.
*Cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring) watched from the side Monday, as did linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) and guard Will Rackley (ankle), while Miller (pec) worked in full pads. Guard Jason Spitz (foot), fullback Brock Bolen (knee), center John Estes (knee) and defensive end Austen Lane (foot) did not attend practice. Safety Jeremiah Brown was back in full pads after missing Friday after being in the concussion program, while cornerback Leigh Torrence missed Monday in the program. Defensive end John Chick (knee) continued to work on the side in practice, and he and linebacker Clint Session (head) remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list.