GROWING AND GROWING
The process wasn't easy, and in reality, it's ongoing.
But with his first NFL offseason a day from completion, Jaguars second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert said he feels good about where he is with his knowledge of the team's new offensive system.
And overall, he said this offseason has been a good one.
"I think our whole team is better right now because we've seen these plays now, we've repped them a bunch throughout OTAs and our veteran mini-camp," Gabbert said Wednesday between a pair of practices at 2012 mini-camp, which concludes Thursday at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.
"Now we're getting it for the third time, basically. We're feeling very comfortable with it and are getting a lot done."
The Jaguars put the offense in once during a veteran orientation, then installed it again throughout organized team activities. They're putting it in again this week and will do so again a final time during training camp.
Gabbert said new quarterbacks coach Greg Olson worked with him throughout the offseason on "calming everything down," being comfortable in the pocket and shortening his drop, but that most of his focus was on learning the offense.
"It's a process," he said. "We still haven't got everything installed. We still have a lot more to do in training camp, but for the most part the things that we've put in so far I know all the quarterbacks have that down. Everybody's come a long way with that."
A SPECIAL SOUND
Jeff Feagles knows punting, and when he saw Bryan Anger this week, he knew he was seeing something special. Actually, Feagles said it was clear he was hearing something special.
Feagles, a former Pro Bowl punter, has been at mini-camp at the invitation of Head Coach Mike Mularkey to work with Anger, a punter the Jaguars selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Feagles said the reports on Anger's leg strength are true, and that that was obvious not only when he watched Anger punt, but when he heard it.
"You can tell the sound when the guy is hitting the ball – this is like an explosion," Feagles said. "I've heard it from guys like Mike Scifres (of San Diego) and Shane Lechler (of Oakland). Those are the two guys who have the strongest leg. You don't forget that sound, especially when you can't make that sound yourself."
Anger consistently punts with hang time in the five-second range, and at times during the offseason has had punts in the mid-five-second range.
"If you want to compare the sports, it's like a guy hitting a baseball 500 feet – it's that impressive," Feagles said.
Feagles said his objective isn't to change what Anger is doing, and that he worked with him only minimally on technique.
"What he does is really impressive – it's really good stuff," Feagles said. "I just tried to take him through the A to Z of being an NFL punter – what's going to be expected of him, what he's going to have to deal with from the media."
Feagles knows Mularkey because each had a son at North Carolina in recent seasons. The two spoke at former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin's recent golf tournament in Jacksonville and Feagles offered to work with Anger.
"I just told him I thought it would be a great fit to come out and work with Brian," Feagles said. "Mike was very receptive to it."
Consider the code deciphered. Throughout the offseason, Jaguars coaches often have been seen at practice wearing a T-Shirt that reads, "E.X.T.R.A.," raising questions about the meaning behind the acronym.
Aaron Ross on Tuesday solved the mystery.
Ross, a cornerback who spent the last five seasons with the New York Giants, had the shirts made shortly after arriving in Jacksonville. Its meaning: "Effort Times Tenacity equals Resilient Athletes."
"It's just something we came up with," Ross said. "I used to go in the weight room all the time when I was with the Giants and write, 'EXTRA' at the bottom of my book. It was something that carried on throughout the team.
"When I got here, I made some shirts for the guys to basically put a little extra in, coming off the field, film work, anything to give us an extra edge as a team."
WHAT GABBERT SAYS
"You build chemistry by playing together. The more you throw with them (the receivers), the more you're with them, you build that chemistry and that's what we're building right now."
WHAT RT EBEN BRITTON SAYS
"Guys are just excited to be out there. There's a lot of energy. It's high energy. Guys are working really hard. We're working our butts off. It's getting better and better."
WHAT WR LAURENT ROBINSON SAYS
"I feel like the offense is making a lot of great strides learning the offense. This is our third time actually going through the beginning of the installs and we're going good. After a week off we're getting back after it with the mini-camp until training camp. I feel good right now."
WHAT WE SAW
A whole lot of sweating. And on a serious note . . . a whole lot of sweating. The Jaguars opened Wednesday afternoon's mini-camp practice to the public, and with more than 1,000 fans attending, the temperatures reached 95 degrees. Mularkey said it was the hottest practice day of the offseason, but the heat didn't keep the offense from having a pretty good day. Gabbert continued to look better and better, and he had a long touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Kevin Elliott early in the session. Wide receiver Mike Thomas also had a nice catch on which he reached high for a pass while falling. Gabbert also had a crisp 20-yard completion on an out route to rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Most of the 90 Jaguars players on the offseason roster will participate in a final mini-camp practice Thursday, after which the offseason program will be over for veteran players. The rookies will remain in town for the next two weeks. The mini-camp practice is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. and the public is invited.
*Tight end Marcedes Lewis had what Mularkey said was a tweaked hamstring in the afternoon practice. Mularkey said he didn't expect the injury to be serious. Also, linebacker Clint Session and defensive tackle C.J. Mosley missed practice Wednesday because of personal reasons. Each was excused.
*The Jaguars got a taste of the Arena Football League Tuesday. They were glad it was just a small taste. "It was interesting, to say the least," Gabbert said. A day after the threat of rain forced the Jaguars to work inside Veterans Memorial Arena Tuesday, Gabbert said he hadn't realized how small the field was. "I think it's only like 83 feet wide, so it was different," Gabbert said. "We got a lot done and still accomplished everything we needed to." Laurent Robinson joked that he didn't think he would fare very well with the 50-yard, walled-in field. "After that carpet yesterday, there was no way I could do this and get hit into the wall – no way," he said.
*Robinson said he spoke to WR Justin Blackmon this week in the wake of the rookie's recent arrest for aggravated DUI. "I was out of town all last week and I didn't want to send him a text," Robinson said. "I just talked to him a little bit (Tuesday) at practice and just told him that you've got to grow up. NFL players are targets, so you have to stay low key, low profile. Everybody makes mistakes, and he's got to learn from it and keep doing better." Robinson said Blackmon is doing well this week and "playing with a little chip on his shoulder." *Britton on his continued return from a back injury that kept him out most of last season: "I'm feeling great. I'm just taking it one day at a tim