JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's notes and observations from Day 12 of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp Saturday at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex …
1.Cody Kessler stood out for two-and-a-half quarters Thursday – and his head coach liked what he saw. "I thought he performed well," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. Marrone on Saturday discussed multiple aspects of a 24-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the 2018 preseason opener, with the performance of Kessler – the team's backup quarterback – prominent among the subjects. Kessler, acquired in an offseason trade with Cleveland, completed 14 of 17 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. "You don't know what to expect in a game," Marrone said. "There's a lot of verbal communication [with quarterbacks], and there's a lot on their plate. You've got to call the play, you've got to change the play, so there's a lot going on. I'm looking at demeanor. Are they relaxed? Things of that nature. I thought Cody displayed that. He looked like he was having fun out there, which is good. He looked relaxed. It's a start, but we have to keep pushing and keep him going."
2.Marrone on Saturday discussed the play of multiple wide receivers. The first was veteran Donte Moncrief, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and who had a strong week of practice last week after missing much of the first week of camp with an ankle injury. Moncrief caught three passes for 21 yards Thursday. "Like anybody that comes back, they work themselves back in," Marrone said. "You saw that, but I was happy to see him the other night go out there and make some plays. That was a good thing and we're excited to see what else is in store." Marrone also discussed fourth-year veteran Rashad Greene Sr., who muffed a punt in the second half against New Orleans. "You'd like him to go ahead and fair catch it, but you start saying, 'Well, shoot, he's trying to make it as a punt returner and trying to do things a little bit different …''' Marrone said. "You try to say, 'Hey, listen, just do what we expect you to do and everything's fine.' He's done it before. He has returned punts before. He has been reliable in practice. Those things obviously do occur. It's something where we go forward and let's not let it happen again.''
3.Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.'s return to practice was the biggest story of Day 12 of Jaguars 2018 Training Camp Saturday. Fowler spent the first two-and-a-half weeks of camp on the physically unable to perform list with a shoulder issue, but looked fast and confident in one-on-one pass drills Saturday. Fowler, who had eight sacks last regular season and two more in the postseason, appeared to participate fully throughout practice in 11-on-11 drills. That's a good sign for the Jaguars, because Fowler appears likely to be at full strength well before his scheduled 2018 debut. That will be in the Jaguars' Week 2 regular-season home opener against New England at TIAA Bank Field. He will miss the regular-season opener against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, while serving a one-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
4.The poise and improvement of starting quarterback Blake Bortles has been a storyline throughout '18 camp, and that remained the case Thursday against New Orleans. Bortles played just one series against the Saints, completing six of nine passes for 53 yards on a 79-yard, 15-play drive that ended with Bortles' two-yard rollout and run for a touchdown. It was exactly what a team wants from it first-team offense and quarterback in the preseason opener – an efficient early drive followed by an early exit with no injuries sustained. Marrone on Saturday was asked the difference between Bortles now and last season. "Last year at this time … I don't know what it was," Marrone said, referring to Bortles sharing time in Preseason Week 3 last season with then-backup Chad Henne. "It was some type of, 'Who is the quarterback? What is going on?' I think he is playing well [during this training camp]. I think Blake would be the first one to tell you: There are a lot of things that he can improve upon. I think he is in a good place, but he still has a way to go and that is why you have the preseason."