JACKSONVILLE – A few Jaguars veterans got their first training camp break, but mostly Sunday was a day about offense.
And specifically, it was about offensive improvement.
On a day when the temperatures cooled considerably, and a day when four veterans had the day off of practice, Jaguars Training Camp 2013 continued Sunday morning with a two-and-a-half-hour practice under gray skies at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields.
The temperature was 83 degrees, with the attendance at 1,706.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive end Jason Babin, defensive tackle Roy Miller and center Brad Meester all did not practice, with the team giving them a "veterans" day off on the third day of training camp.
"That was the plan prior to training camp," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said. "It's all part of our plan that we have as an organization, to take care of them and take care of our guys."
Also, guard Drew Nowak practiced full with a wrap on his left elbow. He tweeted late Saturday night that he had been in an auto accident in which another car hit and totaled his car, but that he was OK.
Nowak said the other car hit his passenger side.
"It was just a freak accident," Nowak said. "Those things happen. It happens everyday and unfortunately, it happened to me. It was lucky that I'm safe and the other guy is safe. That's the main thing."
On the field, the storyline for many observers remained the quarterback position, where second-year veteran Blaine Gabbert struggled at times Saturday with Chad Henne performing well that day in a mid-practice two-minute drill.
On Sunday, the two each had bright spots, and Bradley said overall it was a day of significant improvement from Saturday.
"Overall, I was impressed with our offense today," Bradley said. "We challenged them in the team meeting. Some things (Saturday) weren't acceptable. We challenged them and they came back and had a good day."
Wide receiver Cecil Shorts caught a touchdown from both Gabbert and Henne.
"I have a long way to go," Shorts said. "We did a good job on offense spreading the ball around. Everybody was making plays. One thing I was talking about today was all week we hadn't scored. Today was 'fringe' and 'red zone.' The thing for the wide receivers was, 'Score.' I think we madea statement today."
Rookie wide receiver Tobais Palmer and first-year wide receiver Mike Brown each also caught a touchdown in practice, as did tight end Ryan Otten.
Gabbert completed by one count 14 of 21 passes for two touchdowns – to Shorts and Brown. Henne completed by one count 13 of 21 passes for two touchdowns – to Shorts and Otten. Rookie free agent Matt Scott completed 4 of 6 passes with a touchdown to Palmer.
The Jaguars are scheduled to go through a walk-through Sunday evening, and will practice Monday at 9:55 a.m. at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness practice fields.
Safety Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring) remained on the reserve non-football injury list on the third day of camp, with offensive lineman Mark Asper (knee) coming off the list and practicing Sunday morning. Wide receiver Justin Blackmon (groin), wide receiver Taylor Price (foot) and offensive guard Stephane Milhim (knee) remained on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Wide receiver Jeremy Ebert did not practice after sustaining a blow to the head Friday. He was reported to be symptom free, but has not been cleared. Safety Steven Terrell also did not practice
Palmer sustained an ankle sprain and did not return to practice, Bradley said.
PLAY OF THE DAY
The day featured more highlights than Saturday, and Sunday's standout play came – unsurprisingly – from Henne and Shorts.
Henne looked good through the early part of practice, and Shorts has impressed since camp began, so it was little surprise when Henne looked to Shorts deep on Henne's first series of practice.
Henne, who had started one of three on the drive, hit Shorts in stride and Shorts separated from the defenders at the last second, catching the ball and at the goal line for a 21-yard touchdown.
1.Shorts came up with several impressive catches in team and 7-in-7 work, including a late touchdown on a back-shoulder red-zone pass from Gabbert. Shorts also caught a 40-yard pass off an errant long pass from Henne.
2.Running back Jordan Todman had an impressive run around the left side late in practice.
3.Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny forced a fumble by rookie Denard Robinson. The fumble came on Robinson's first snap of camp from the Wildcat formation.
4.Cornerback Dwayne Gratz nearly had an interception off of an errant pass from Gabbert early in practice.
5.Tight end Brett Brackett had a pretty sliding catch off of a touch pass from Gabbert early in practice.
LOOKING ON . . .
*A standout player early camp continues to be Brown. He has looked good in the slot, and on Sunday continued to show good chemistry with the quarterbacks. A first-year veteran, Brown is in a tough situation with a relatively deep receiving group, but he is putting a lot of good practice tape together, and will be tough to keep off the roster.
*Here we go with another entry on Shorts. It's not as if Shorts has been overlooked in camp, certainly, but you can't watch the Jaguars practice without being impressed. He is on a different level than the other Jaguars receivers and is open far more consistently – and open in better situations – than any other receivers. Gabbert was asked on Saturday if the quarterbacks had to focus on getting other receivers the ball and not depend too much on Shorts. He replied that, no, he would go through reads and get Shorts the ball when the situation called for it. The way Shorts is playing, that's a wise strategy.
*One of the standout players early in camp has been Ball, a veteran cornerback who entered training camp as the starter opposite Gratz. There were those who wondered about the security of Ball's starting position, and those who speculated that the Jaguars could sign a veteran sometime during camp to compete for the spot, in part because Ball had started just 19 games in his six NFL seasons. But Ball, who responded to a challenge from Bradley midway through the offseason program b finishing that period strong, has started camp strong, too. On Friday, he intercepted Henne in 7-on-7 drills, and followed that with an interception off Gabbert in two-minute drills on Saturday morning.