JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from Wednesday's Jaguars.com LIVE with Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas …
1.Thomas is embracing his role.Much is being asked of Thomas, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March. Not only is he expected to improve the tight end position, receiving corps and offense, he immediately became one of the most experienced players on the Jaguars' offense – and there's a leadership role that goes with that. Thomas, who signed a five-year deal with the Jaguars on March 11, said he's fine with the latter role – and in fact, he's embracing it. "It's been very comfortable for me," Thomas said, adding, "I believe in leading by example, so I'll go out to practice every day and show people how I work and how much passion and precision I put into what it takes to be a good football player in this league."
2.The install is complete … sort of. Veterans and rookies have been meeting with coaches in recent weeks, with those weeks marking the first installation of offensive coordinator Greg Olson's offense. While the three weeks of organized team activities that begin Tuesday as the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields will be closed to the public, those practices will mark the first time media or fans have seen Olson's offense with the Jaguars. But Thomas said what will be seen next week shouldn't be considered the final version. "We officially just finished the last install yesterday or the day before," Thomas said. "It may have been talked about, but it hasn't been perfected. It's, 'Here's your four-inch stack of papers and the various things you can do. Now, we have to go out and learn.' I'd say we have a good grasp of 15-to-20 percent. Now, we have to go perfect those different aspects so we can go out and be successful on Sundays.'"
3.Thomas is impressed with his new quarterback.Thomas spent time with second-year quarterback Blake Bortles shortly after signing with the team in March. He was impressed then, and said on Wednesday he is even more impressed after nearly a month in the team's offseason program. "What stands out about him is his attitude," Thomas said. "He's very easy to get along with. That means a lot as a quarterback, when you can go out there and your players feel like they can be comfortable around you and they're excited to play with you. He has a good amount of excitement around him. We're out there at practice and the quarterback is 10-to-15 yards downfield to say, 'Great catch.' Those are the little things that help him be a great leader.
4.This offense is exciting – and challenging.Thomas called himself "a big believer" in Olson's system, and added after his first full look at the offense, "I think people will be very pleased to see the creativity and the thing we'll be able to do." Thomas said the offense has explosive options, and that it will ask a lot of Bortles. "It's so unique," he said. "We can do so many different things. That's a lot to ask for everybody on the offense, especially the quarterback. He's going to have to take a lot of time to really make sure he can lead the offense and do all of the things Oley (Olson) may want to do."
5.The young receivers have potential.Thomas on the Jaguars' young wide receiver corps of second-year veterans Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson: "I'm excited about them. Those guys are great athletes. They definitely have all the physical tools they need to go out and be successful on Sundays. That's an exciting thing for me, to be able to watch those guys work for the first time. You hear about your teammates you're going to play with, then you get to see them. You get to see the ability they have. It's going to be a big commitment for them. Going into Year Two, you have some snaps under your belt and a little experience under your belt, then you get to decide what kind of player you want to be known as, who you're going to be when you show up on Sundays and the message you're going to send to the league. I'm looking forward to what they can do, because they are very talented."