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Rookie minicamp: Ending on a sunny note

Posted May 5, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars end 2013 rookie minicamp with one healthy quarterback and a chance of a workout players sticking with the active roster

JACKSONVILLE – A day of sunshine made Gus Bradley’s outlook even brighter.

The Jaguars’ Head Coach had remained enthusiastic and upbeat – as if he knows another way – throughout the rainy first two days of the team’s three-day rookie minicamp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

So, it was little surprise that with the sun at last appearing Bradley finished the event Sunday on a positive note.

“I thought it was a good day – and really, three good days – of on-field work,” Bradley said Sunday after the final practice of the session.

The Jaguars got Sunday’s work done despite a numbers issue at a key position.

The team worked through a two-hour practice with just one available quarterback, Kawaun Jakes, who was working with the team as one of 19 players invited a workout basis. With Jordan Rodgers (groin) and Matt Scott (ankle) – each on the 90-man roster as collegiate free agents – unavailable because of injuries sustained Friday, Jakes threw every pass in seven-on-seven and team-type drills Sunday.

“I already knew the other two guys wouldn’t be going,” said Jakes, who played at St. Augustine High School before playing collegiately at Western Kentucky. “It’s just playing football. If I get in, I’m playing football, so that’s all it is.”

Jarrod Highberger, a scouting assistant who started four years at quarterback at Carnegie-Mellon, threw passes in quarterback-receiver drills.

“The team reps and the seven-on-seven that’s fine, but all the individual things like that we gave him (Jakes) a break a little bit,” Bradley said. “We adjusted and the guys handled it good. Usually if you have three quarterbacks you’re in pretty good shape for a day, but some freak things happened and we’ll move on.”

Bradley said while no official decision had been made as of Sunday, one or two of the 19 players in camp on a workout basis could be signed to the active roster. He said the approach of the coaching staff is to work with undrafted players and workout players with the same intensity and effort as they would a drafted player.

Bradley said he has tried to take that approach to deal with the difficulty of at times having to release young players quickly in the NFL.

“I really had a tough time initially with the NFL because there’s a sense of disloyalty,” Bradley said.
“They’re here and then you cut them. I didn’t know if I liked that part because in college you recruited them and you grow with them through the whole thing. The way I’ve been able to deal with it is I’ve told them, ‘The loyalty comes with us coaching every one of you as hard as we can. What we’re going to give you is the opportunity to put it on tape. If it’s not here where you make it at least other teams can see it and we’re going to try to get you, if it’s not here, into another camp.’

“For me, I guess that’s the way I deal with it to have the loyalty that was a little empty coming in the NFL.”

Bradley said while undrafted players weren’t told specifically that a few would make the team, the spirit of competition around the organization this offseason makes that evident.

“They understand that they’re going to get an opportunity that way,” he said. They sense it. That was one of the reasons why it was a good free agency group for us, because they knew the opportunity.”

Also Sunday:

*Two players who stood out over the weekend were running back De’Leon Eskridge (5-feet-11, 215 pounds) and defensive end J.D. Griggs (6-5, 244), a pair of workout players who appear to have a chance to be signed to the active roster. Eskridge got extensive reps Saturday and Sunday, partly because fifth-round selection Denard Robinson missed the two days to attend his graduation at the University of Michigan. “He was a guy that showed up some and caught our attention,” Bradley said, adding of Griggs, “We closely watched him as well and he did some good things. I think he’s got some of the tools or traits that we’re looking for.” Griggs, who originally attended Iowa before playing at Akron as a junior and senior, could be a possibility as a Leo pass rusher. Eskridge played three seasons at Minnesota before finishing at San Jose State.

*Bradley noted the play throughout the week of rookie linebackers LaRoy Reynolds (Virginia), Michael Zimmer (Illinois State) and Maalik Bomar (Cincinnati). “I’m pleased with how they progressed,” Bradley said, adding of Reynolds, “He showed up – I think he has a chance.”

*Bradley said the Jaguars like what they saw this weekend from Florida State fullback Lonnie Pryor, a college free agent. Pryor not only has potential to be a blocking fullback, but to play a role as a running back. Bradley said a bigger back can be an asset in the team’s zone-blocking approach. “It gives us that dimension,” Bradley said. “He gives us that dimension. He could be a fullback obviously, but we had some clips of him being a one back at Florida State. He had some carries so it gives us that dimension of having a bigger back as a possibility.”

*Bradley took notice of the fans who not only attended Sunday’s practice, but those who attended in windy, rainy conditions Friday and Saturday. An estimated 400-to-500 people attended Friday and Saturday, with about 600-to-700 on Sunday. “Our players appreciate it,” Bradley said.

*Bradley also noted the presence of Jaguars Owner Shad Khan on Friday and Saturday. “How many owners would sit out in the rain a couple of days – I don’t even think he had an umbrella,” Bradley said. “That’s great stuff.”

Photo Gallery of Day 3 of Jaguars Rookie Minicamp


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