If Laurent Robinson's start was slow, Wednesday was faster.
Robinson, a veteran wide receiver and a key off-season free agent acquisition, made a few headlines early in camp with a few dropped passes over the weekend. He had a better practice Tuesday, following that with perhaps his best practice Wednesday morning.
Robinson, who caught 10 touchdown passes for the Dallas Cowboys last season, had a stretch of three consecutive receptions early in 7-on-7 drills Wednesday, then followed that with a 35-yard reception from second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert in team drills.
"It's coming around," Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said. "It's a gradual process. The more and more we do, the better it's going to get. I told Laurent (Tuesday), 'If you are pressing or if you feel like you have to do anything more than you're capable of doing don't do that. You're here for a reason. What you did last year is really what got you here. Just relax. Don't put any more added pressure on because I know you feel like there is, and there shouldn't be.'"
Robinson said while he wasn't worried early in camp, he did feel he made progress the last two days.
"It's coming together," he said. "I was training, but you can't train for training camp practices. It's tough, but you have to get your mind back into it and your body back into it. I knocked off the rust. Now, I'm playing football and having fun.
"It's definitely a process. People want to judge one day, one play. We have to keep taking our steps, keep walking up the stairs and get to where we want to be."
A MAN WITH A PLAN
Brad Meester said he's fine with the approach.
Meester, the Jaguars' 13-year veteran center, worked on a limited basis Monday and Tuesday, then returned to full-pads work on Wednesday. That's part of a plan to ensure that Meester is available and ready for the regular season, Mularkey said early this week.
"They talked to me about that when we got back for training camp," Meester said. "We're trying to be smart with it. The days I'm up I'll go full go with it, then we'll take some time off to stay fresh."
Meester said he worked limited in training camp last year, too, but whereas last year he took limited reps each day, this year is more of a day-off, day-on approach.
"It's been good," he said. "When I saw it, I was like, 'Whoa,' but it's helping me stay fresh. It has been good so far."
"There's no question that he (Jaguars right tackle Eben Britton) loves football. He enjoys going out there. Most guys in training camp, this is a grind. He either is really happy or he is a really good actor. It's been every day. There hasn't been a down day. . . . Every day is good for Eben."
WHAT WE SAW
Much of the focus understandably has been on the team's wide receivers, and aside from Robinson, second-year wide receiver Cecil Shorts also has shown progress early in camp. The team worked him at the "Z" receiver position Wednesday after he had worked at the X early in camp, and Mularkey said he stood out there. Mularkey said rookie receiver Mike Brown of Liberty also has done well early, as has second-year veteran Taylor Price. "I'm a little shocked by how much he's done and how he's been able to do on a limited basis," Mularkey said of Price. "He's had a chance and done some things really nice." Defensively, rookie linebacker Julian Stanford batted down a pass Wednesday morning and continues to look good early, while rookie linebacker Brandon Marshall also had a pass deflection on defense. Quarterback Chad Henne had a solid series in 7-on-7 early, completing passes to Lee Evans and Marcedes Lewis, while Lewis – who has been effective early in camp – dropped a catchable ball in the end zone in red-zone drills. Running backs Rashad Jennings and Jalen Parmalee each ran well in the morning practice, and cornerback Aaron Ross defensed a pass in the end zone in red-zone drills.
The 89 players present will keep to roughly the same schedule for Day 6 of 2012 Training Camp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields as they have had the last three days. The team will practice twice Thursday – a full practice at 8:30 a.m. and a 4:30 p.m. walkthrough. The 8:30 a.m. practice is free and open to the public.
Time to give credit where it's due. And while there was much made of the Jaguars' offense struggling at times early in camp, what can't be overlooked is the passing game made strides the last two days. That's not to imply more improvement isn't needed, but after far too many drops on Saturday and Monday, there have been fewer the past two days. Robinson made a noticeable improvement Tuesday, and although he had one drop early, he also got open for a 30-yard gain on a pass from Gabbert early in team drills. The offense has a long way to go, but on Wednesday morning we may have seen the first signs of chemistry between Gabbert and the team's key offensive offseason free agent.
*Robinson and S Jeremiah Brown each missed the afternoon walkthrough while being checked for head injuries. Robinson hit his head on the ground in the Wednesday morning practice, while Brown had a similar incident the day before and experienced headaches Wednesday.
*The Jaguars worked practice on Wednesday with officials who may be called upon to work NFL games as replacement officials this season. The Jaguars typically work with officials on a daily basis in practice, and Mularkey said Wednesday's crew could be called upon to call league games if the NFL and the officials don't end their ongoing labor dispute. "It gives a chance for them to work and us to work on our discipline," Mularkey said. "That's what we're doing." Mularkey said the region area head official set up the replacement officials, and that the group that worked Wednesday will work through Friday's scrimmage.
*Mularkey said he continues to like what he has seen from defensive tackle Terrance Knighton. The fourth-year veteran reported to camp in the best shape of his career, and is expected to be return to full participation in the next day or two after coming off the Physically Unable to Perform list early this week. "After practice he has been out there for ten minutes out there," Mularkey said. "He is in the weight room, he's trying to control his weight which is good to see. Even after the walk through practice he's working on his own asking other guys. I saw the linemen run with him yesterday in the afternoon. They're trying to help him and keep him at that weight that he needs to be at. He can be a really good player."
*While Mularkey said he doesn't know when rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon will be in camp, he offered a timeframe for when he can get onto the field when he reports. Under league rules, Blackmon will not be able to participate the day he reports, then will have two days when he can run routes but can't be in full pads. On the fourth day, he will be able to participate in full drills. Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, is the lone first-round selection not in camp.