JACKSONVILLE – Nick Foles liked what he saw Thursday.
That was one takeaway from Day 1 of Jaguars 2019 Training Camp, a day that featured a national-media presence at the Dream Finders Homes Practices Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
We at jaguars.com caught up with one of the national-media types, and we also spoke to wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell about a position group that figures to be a major storyline throughout '19 camp.
We'll cover those topics later, but first we'll cover what Foles – the Jaguars' starting quarterback and the highest-profile offseason acquisition in franchise history – had to say following his first training camp practice with his new team:
*"You could tell guys felt really comfortable." A primary takeaway from Foles' post-practice availability was that the veteran quarterback liked his chemistry with wide receivers. "To me, this was a winning practice," said Foles, Super Bowl Most Valuable Player following the 2017 season while with Philadelphia. "We have to build these up every single day. We have a long journey ahead of us. We played together through the spring, so we understand each other a little more. We're able to talk about the ins and outs of route-running, and what I'm thinking." Foles said communication goes beyond just talking to receivers. "I want to see what the defense sees," he said. "I want to see what they're thinking based on our splits, and what they're seeing based on my footwork. I feel like we can make each other better as a team."
*"I like getting away from it …" Foles said Thursday's practice was his third time throwing since the end of mid-June minicamp. A throwing session with Jaguars quarterbacks Wednesday was one of the others, with the other occasion coming when he threw to his wife and brother-in-law. "In the offseason, guys have different routines," Foles said. "I always like getting away from it for a little bit. … The first day, I want to be so excited to throw. I was excited to get back [Thursday] and throw and fire it around. You know that you might not be as accurate, and you may not be as great on your deep ball. That's part of it, but I felt like I'm more hypersensitive to all my fundamentals on these days and I get to go out there and have fun, and get it back, and acclimate that way, and that's just something that I've always done. I didn't just switch it, that's just what's best for me." Foles was asked about the hands of his wife, Tori. "She has great hands," he said with a smile. "She's way more athletic than I am."
*"You can tell they're getting a great chemistry…" We asked McCardell about the wide receivers, and the first thing he discussed was the positive effect Foles should have on the group. "He's been very good to these guys," McCardell said. "You can tell they're getting a great chemistry together. That's what happens when they really communicate together, and they really talk. It keeps everybody on the same page. That's what they started in OTAs (offseason organized team activities), and you can see the first day it's picking up. It's a big deal because you have to trust each other. Every quarterback I played with, he trusted me. I've trusted them. When you have that trust factor, a lot of great things will happen. If he knows you have a chance to make a play, he's going to keep coming to you to make that play. These guys understand that."
*A lot of guys with different ability … McCardell when speaking to the media during the offseason talked about liking the versatility of the group, and he reiterated that Thursday. "I love it, because that's what I wanted," he said. "We've got a different look. We've got a different mix of guys, which is what I like. We don't have just one type of receiver. We have a lot of guys with different abilities, but who can in their own way make a difference for our offense."
*"Nick Foles. Period. End of story." Among the national media at Jaguars practice Thursday: Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders of the NFL Network and Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. Sanders interviewed defensive end Calais Campbell and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye following practice. Here's what Prisco, a long-time NFL writer and former Jaguars beat reporter for the Florida Times-Union, had to say about the key to the Jaguars' '19 season: "Nick Foles. Period. End of story. If he plays close to like he played in the playoffs that year (2017) – close – they'll be a playoff team. The defense is going to be phenomenal. I worry a little about the defensive line. They need [second-year wide receiver] DJ Chark [Jr.] to step up and become a factor in the passing game, but it's all on Nick Foles. The offensive line has to get healthy, [running back Leonard] Fournette has to be better and more dedicated and somebody has to step up at wide receiver. If they do that, they will be a playoff team."