What mattered to Ball on Monday morning was that he practiced with the Jaguars for the first time in 2014 Training Camp, and after missing the first week and a half, that mattered to the veteran cornerback very much.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Ball said Monday after the Jaguars practiced for about an hour and 40 minutes at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.
Ball, who spent the first eight days of training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list with an ankle injury, worked in full pads Monday. He took limited repetitions – approximately two per period.
“He felt really good,” Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said.
Ball, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent during the 2013 offseason, started 15 games last season, and was one of the team’s most consistent players defensively. He sustained an ankle injury late in the team’s offseason on-field work.
“It has been a little frustrating,” Ball said Monday. “Even though I wasn’t as crisp as I’d like to be, and I know I’ve got some things I want to step in and get done, just the feeling of being out there and back on the practice field, it was something.”
Ball said he felt good during the couple of reps he ran in each series, and said returning to full speed will be a process that plays out over the coming days.
“It’s day-by-day,” Ball said. “Today, I was like, ‘OK, this is what I need to work on,’ and then it’s, ‘OK, here is what I need to attack.’ Fitness-wise, I think I was in pretty good shape, but footwork, hand placement and all that – those are things that come with repetition and I’m definitely excited to get those things back on track.”
Ball said he doesn’t yet know if he will play when the Jaguars open the preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We’ll wait and see,” Ball said. “We’ll just take it day-by-day and see how it feels throughout the week. If I get the opportunity to get a couple of snaps on Friday, so be it. If not, I’ll be ready by the next preseason game.”
Gerhart missed a shortened practice Friday and did not participate in the Jaguars’ mock game Saturday before sitting out Monday’s lightning-shortened workout.
Bradley said Gerhart felt better Monday than Sunday. Gerhart said he and the team are being cautious to ensure the injury doesn’t worsen.
“(We’re) going through protocol to make sure we’re feeling good about everything before going full go,” Gerhart said, adding that he doesn’t yet know if he will play Friday.
“We’ll see how it progresses,” he said. “It’s frustrating. At the same time, we’ve got to be smart. It’s early and you don’t want it to become a bigger issue than it is.”
LOOKING ON . . .
*The starting wide receivers on the unofficial depth chart were
*The starting offensive line on the unofficial depth chart: left tackle
*Ball was listed as a starting right cornerback opposite second-year veteran
“(Wide receiver Mike Brown is a) really good route runner, really good. I talked to him out there about he’s at a point now where he’s held in high regard at that position. Just by his actions, he can raise the standards for that whole group. (He’s) one of the most respected guys in that room. He’s doing it by his play. I’d like to see him do it now throughout the whole wide receiver drill. He’s doing a great job. The great thing about him is he can play every position. It gives us great flexibility.”
--- Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley
A daily training camp thought from Jaguars.com senior correspondent Brian Sexton …
“(Rookie wide receiver) Marqise Lee stood out at the scrimmage Saturday. The speed he plays with is impressive. There were times he was lined up on the slot with a linebacker and a safety trying to cover him and he got behind them every time. I know he slid into the second round, but he’s a special talent and he doesn’t really fully understand the offense yet. For receivers, that’s what you’re looking at: the ability. They’re going to take time to develop with their routes, but he really looks like a special athlete and a guy who should have been somewhere in the top round.”
A daily training camp thought from Jaguars Radio Network analyst Jeff Lageman …
“Blake Bortles was what you noticed at the scrimmage Saturday. When you watched the game, you thought, ‘OK, that was a solid start for him,’ and then you go back and watch the film and you see the little things that he does when things don’t go right. That’s when he excels. Those are the things you just can’t coach. Those are innate things. He still has a long way to go, but you have to see those things where he has to adjust to those things that aren’t on the board and he does an excellent job with that.”