A LOT TO LIKE
Fred Taylor says he's optimistic.
Taylor, the Jaguars' all-time leading rusher, retired from the NFL before last season. He is spending this week with the Jaguars' front office, and he hopes to find out if he might look to eventually join a team in that capacity.
His work this week has given him a chance to see this year's Jaguars up close.
"I like what I see," Taylor said. "I really do. I am impressed with these guys, a lot of guys that I think get it. I think they understand the team concept and they understand that they have to work in order to get to where they want to go."
Taylor said a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL last year seems to believe in itself, and appears to have the talent and desire to build on that. As for an offense that ranked 32nd in the league in total yards last season, Taylor said the unit "has been getting better every day."
"I like seeing (quarterback) Blaine (Gabbert)'s progression," Taylor said. "He's getting the ball out quick, stepping up and making some good reads. He can read the entire field from what I've seen and not the just one and two guys, but he's been patient enough to get the entire progression."
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Taylor said he's not quite sure what his future holds.
What he said he mostly hopes to gain from this week, which is he is spending shadowing members of the Jaguars' scouting staff, is a little better idea exactly what that future might be.
"I've always been intrigued by what happens behind the scenes," Taylor said. "You never know what can come of it. I think I have a knack for talent, being able to identify the good, the bad players, the good character guys.
"I said, 'Let's go up there and see exactly what it is. What's on the other side?' I don't know what will come of it, but I'm just a little curious – curiosity, I guess."
Taylor said while early in his career his main concern was staying healthy, he began considering working in coaching or in a front office later in his career. Taylor said he also has been offered two high school head coaching jobs, but he isn't yet ready to commit fully.
"If I'm going to commit, I have to totally commit," he said. "I can't sit around. I know football. This is what I know. It's been in me 27 years so it's easier for me to be able to comprehend. It doesn't mean because of my success in the NFL I am automatically good enough material to be a coach, but with my habits and what I've done over the years knowing and understanding players having been there myself, learning the system, taking all of those notes which are extremely valuable – I think I've got some goods to offer if I decide to go that route."
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"I'm very excited. It's like going to a big family reunion. I still have brothers on the team. You always want to play against the guys you played with before. It's a great opportunity. It's a great chance to show the guys I still have it."
WHAT WE SAW
The Jaguars went through their 11th day of training camp Wednesday, and while there were still a few early defensive penalties and some early drops, there seemed to be progress late in practice. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson had a drop and missed a difficult pass midway through practice, then responded with a 25-yard catch from quarterback Blaine Gabbert deep down the left sidelines. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts also seemed to have a good practice, catching a back-shoulder touchdown throw from Gabbert, while backup quarterback Chad Henne threw a touchdown pass in the middle of the end zone to wide receiver Chastin West. It was West's second touchdown reception in as many days. Henne later in practice had a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey and offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield also had a brief tussle late in practice, but it was broken up quickly. We're deep into training camp, and well, linemen will be linemen.
Training camp continues with its normal schedule Thursday, with a practice without full pads from 8:30-11 a.m. and a 4:30 afternoon walkthrough. Practices are closed to the public.
Camp practices the last few days haven't been routine, exactly, but this is certainly the stage of camp when a lot starts running together and players are ready to have something that feels like real football. What we need now is a game, and fortunately, that's what we'll have come Friday. The Jaguars throughout the past two weeks have taken strides offensively. Gabbert has looked good at times, and overall has shown improvement. The receivers, though struggling with too many dropped passes, have gotten open more consistently in the last week, and Robinson and Shorts have had strong moments this week. Running back Rashad Jennings has looked strong throughout camp, and was effective at the start of the scrimmage last Friday. The offense as a whole looked better in the scrimmage than it has during practices. One reason is there was actually some game-planning going on, and another was the lights were on and fans were in the building and that's when the adrenaline flows. The lights will be a touch brighter Friday, and that will give a lot of people a chance at their best glimpse yet of what's to come.
*A day after the offensive line featured just two starters, tackle Eben Britton and guard Uche Nwaneri, working in full pads, the unit looked more like its regular-season version Tuesday. Starting tackle Eugene Monroe, starting center Brad Meester and tackle Guy Whimper all returned to full status after working in shorts Monday, meaning the only missing starter was left guard Will Rackley (high-ankle sprain). With reserve Jason Spitz (foot) also out, center Mike Brewster worked with the starters at the position at times.
*Wide receiver Justin Blackmon worked in shorts for a second consecutive day after signing with the team Monday. He is expected to begin full-padded work Sunday, while defensive end Austen Lane (foot), safety Jeremiah Brown (concussion) and linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) also remained out. Tight end Zach Miller did not practice in the morning because of what appeared to be a shoulder issue, and defensive end John Chick and linebacker Clint Session remain on the Physically Unable to perform list.