JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways Thursday as Jaguars veterans reported for 2015 Training Camp …
1)Sen'Derrick Marks faces a difficult task.We'll lead this kicking-off-2015-training-camp version of five takeaways with Sen'Derrick Marks. With reason. The veteran defensive tackle's status likely will be a daily watch through training camp. Marks spent the offseason rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in the season finale at Houston last December. All reports are that Marks' rehabilitation has gone well. All reports are that he's ahead of schedule. And Marks continually has said he's targeting the regular-season opener September 13 against Carolina as his return date. Bradley on Thursday called Marks' timetable week-to-week. "That one is more of a challenge to us," Bradley said. "We'll see how he progresses. He's done a really good job in the offseason but I think that's more week-to-week as we go through it." Bradley said Marks' is progressing more quickly with time, and that the hope is the pace will accelerate. "My hope is he'll be ready Week One," Bradley said. "I'm not sure. I think there's some things yet to be seen. We are not going to rush it, you know?"
2)It's a new season.We'll get into this more as training camp goes on, but Thursday left no doubt that the Jaguars' expectations are different entering this season. Bradley used the phrase "no excuses," and while he was careful to say the team never made excuses in his first two seasons as head coach, this season is different. "I think last year maybe some would say that we were young; we can't say that this year," Bradley said. "I think we have some youth but it's the right amount of youth." Throughout the offseason, there has been a feeling that more is expected from this team – and that the improvement must come in terms of victories. While you won't hear people talking victory totals around EverBank, as training camp opens the urgency and expectations of tangible improvement feel even closer to the surface.
3)Marqise Lee is far from done.OK, it's obvious Lee isn't done; he's a second-round selection entering his second NFL training camp. But there has been an undercurrent among fans/observers that Lee is somehow already joining a long list of Jaguars early-drafted wide receivers who have under-produced and disappointed in the NFL. That feeling isn't shared inside EverBank Field; not even close. Yes, Lee struggled to adapt to the NFL early last season. And yes, he missed the on-field portion of the offseason program with a knee injury. But he also showed significant flashes late last season, flashes that included five plays of more than 30 yards. For an offense that struggled to produce big plays last season, those flashes are significant. Lee has been cleared to practice 100 percent immediately in camp, and Bradley said on Thursday said of Lee, "Marqise is doing good. I'm excited for him. I know there are a lot of questions and things like that but I don't have a doubt with Marqise. I really like what I've seen in him and his approach."
4)Ace Sanders just wasn't going to make the roster.When the Jaguars released third-year wide receiver Ace Sanders late last week, the timing of the move surprised many observers. It also was surprising because Bradley had spoken highly of the third-year veteran throughout offseason OTAs and minicamp. But while Sanders had performed well in the offseason, his production slipped from 51 catches as a rookie in 2014 to six this past season, and Sanders' average in two seasons as a punt returner was 6.4 yards per return. "I think it was just time," Bradley said. "Dave and I when we had our conversation … That was tough because he was doing some pretty good things but I think it was more the decision we made with our head than our heart." Sanders' release marked the first player since Caldwell took over as general manager in 2013 to be released without the intention of immediately retaining him.
5)This is a different absence for Clemons.Defensive end Chris Clemons' failure to report Thursday was easily the biggest news on Reporting Day, and make no mistake: it took the Jaguars by surprise. It's also significantly different than his previous absences. Clemons, who signed with the Jaguars as a free agent last offseason, missed part of the voluntary portion of the 2014 offseason program and all of the voluntary period in the 2015 offseason. But he participated in mandatory minicamp each offseason, which makes this the first time he has missed anything mandatory with the Jaguars. Bradley made it clear Thursday that "personal reasons" in this case do not mean legal issues or any dispute with the team. It also sounded as if Bradley expects resolution of this pretty quickly. The Jaguars need Clemons and nothing on Thursday indicated he won't be with the team this season. But there was a feeling Thursday that while Clemons' offseason absences are very much allowed under NFL rules and accepted by teammates as such, training camp is the time to prepare as a team and that time shouldn't be squandered.