JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways Friday from Day One of Jaguars 2015 Training Camp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields …
1)More big plays.We open Five Takeaways Day One with a marketing slogan that is oh-so much more than a slogan. More big plays? It appears a real possibility for the Jaguars this season, and while the offense had Day One hiccups, it showed enough firepower that the latter was a theme in Head Coach Gus Bradley's post-practice meeting with the media. Second-year wide receiver Allen Robinson had several big catches down the middle after two early drops, and second-year wide receiver Marqise Lee beat cornerback Dwayne Gratz down the right sideline for what would have been a long gain if not for a drop. The drops are a negative, but Friday showed playmaking ability not just from Lee and Robinson, but free-agent tight end Julius Thomas, tight end Marcedes Lewis, running backs T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson and wide receiver Tandon Doss. "We had some execution things you anticipate on the first day," Bradley said. "On a positive note, I was very pleased and felt like we had some guys make some plays on offense; it's great to see some play-making plays by a number of people. We have plays of the day that we go through with our team. This is going to be a tough day to do it because there were a lot of plays."
2)Lewis could have a significant role.This is early, but it appears Lewis could be a big part of the offense. There has been a tendency among observers to overlook Lewis entering camp after the signing of Thomas, but Thomas and Lewis give the Jaguars as balanced and talented a tight-end duo as the team has had in recent memory. Thomas without question will be a huge target in the red zone, but Lewis had several catches early in practice Friday. He had a drop on a catchable pass downfield, but he also made an athletic play while covered by linebacker Telvin Smith. The guess here is Lewis is more involved in the offense than many might first anticipate. If he stays healthy, he could be a major factor.
3.Tyson Alualu is key defensively.We'll dig deeper here as camp continues, but it was evident on Day One that six-year veteran Tyson Alualu will be important to the defense. That likely will be true throughout the season, but it could be particularly true early as defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks returns from offseason knee surgery. Alualu likely will be listed on the depth chart backing up Jared Odrick at strong-side defensive end; that's the position Alualu played as well or better than starter Red Bryant last season. But Alualu on Friday also worked with veteran Ziggy Hood at the three-technique tackle position where Marks – who isn't likely to play until at least the regular-season opener September 13 – typically starts. "He's got flexibility," Bradley said of Alualu. "He can play a six-technique. He can play inside the big end where Jared Odrick plays. He can play three-technique, so his versatility is really, really big for us. I think he had a really good year going back and looking at the tape. We expect even for him to improve even more from last year."
4.Marks still targeting opener.Forty-four days. A little more than six weeks. However you say it, that's how long Marks has before the regular-season opener, the date he hopes to return from offseason reconstructive surgery. Marks on Friday said he wasn't surprised to open camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and that simply means what he knew already – that he wouldn't be practicing to start camp. "In my mind, I'm saying give me six more weeks – I think I'll be ready," said Marks, who led the Jaguars with 8.5 sacks last season. "I feel great. I'm running and going through the bags. I feel like I can explode off of it. As long as I can have a couple of practices to remove doubt in my mind, I think I'll be good." Also at defensive tackle, while Roy Miller – the team's starting nose tackle next to Marks – was expected to begin camp limited after offseason knee surgery, he appeared to work close to full on Friday. "We're monitoring some of his reps a little bit early," Bradley said. "I think he's full-go."
Take a look at the top 10 images from the first day of Jaguars training camp.
5.Keep an eye on …Yeldon. We talked all offseason about the second-round rookie running back from Alabama. He looked good throughout the offseason, but there always was the caveat that you can't tell everything about a back until the pads go on. That caveat remains, but Yeldon again looked good Friday. He had an early fumble and because that was an issue in college he must continue to improve that area, but he also continued to show the vision and quickness that has many believing he will start the season and be the team's feature back much sooner than later. "He's got really, really good instincts," Bradley said. "He's smooth; I think he's really deceptive as a runner. When he makes a mistake he's hard on himself but he corrects it immediately. He had a fumble and he came back the next opportunity both hands on the ball, 'double in trouble.' I think he's got some work to do on protections, but it's not picking it up in the classroom. He's very, very sharp, he just needs reps at it."