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Offseason Update: Starting won't change Minshew

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II (15) celebrates with fans after the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II (15) celebrates with fans after the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew II spoke Thursday.

This was a big deal because he's the Jaguars' starting quarterback. More specifically, it was a big deal because Thursday was Gardner Minshew II's first media availability since absolutely knowing he will play that role next season.

But Minshew started 12 games as a rookie last season, and he started a lot of games in a lot of places in recent seasons, so it's not a surprise he didn't publicly treat officially becoming the starter like a big deal.

"It didn't change anything that I do," Minshew said.

Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, went 6-6 as a starter last season. The Jaguars traded 2019 Week 1 starting quarterback Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears in March, then opted against using either of their first-round 2020 draft selections on a quarterback.

"I'm still going to work the same way," Minshew said. "I'm still going to lead the same way. I had conversations with [General Manager] David Caldwell and said, 'Do what you think is best for this team.' I believe I'm going to give us the best chance to win no matter what.

"I just have to prove that every day and I'm excited for the opportunity to be able to prove that."

Minshew detailed his work toward that end during a 20-minute video conference Thursday with local media – and while COVID-19 regulations have made this a decidedly unique offseason, Minshew nonetheless said it has been a productive one.

"It's been a lot of fun, seeing growth in yourself and your game," he said.

Minshew, after a whirlwind three-week RV trip that ended at the Super Bowl in Miami, said he has worked six days a week since – first with athletic trainers Anthony Tumbarello in Naples, Fla., and later after returning home to Brandon, Miss., when the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

He has worked in the Jaguars' virtual program in recent weeks, and said he expects to return to Jacksonville soon.

"We'll be able to get some field work there," he said. "We've been doing some players-only walkthroughs virtually that have been helping guys learn and getting us together. Moving forward, we're going to try to get together before [training] camp to get what reps we can by being safe and smart."

Minshew's focus in recent weeks: learning new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's offense. Minshew said he learned five offenses while playing for four different college teams – including Washington State as a senior – so this essentially is Minshew's seventh offense in six seasons.

"Just learning how you learn best … I think that experience helped me as I'm moving into more complicated NFL offenses," he said. "It's been awesome with Coach Gruden. He's in all our meetings, so I'm getting to hear the offense through his eyes and how he's thinking it.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun for both of us and I think we're going to mesh well."

Minshew said in addition to meeting daily with Gruden and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, he and other players have gotten into a productive offseason routine. He said he has been able to speak with new Jaguars tight end Tyler Eifert – who played with Cincinnati when Gruden was the offensive coordinator there in 2013 – and running back Chris Thompson, who played with Washington when Gruden was the head coach there from 2014-2019.

Minshew also said the Jaguars have used a whiteboard application on Microsoft Teams to call plays and discuss assignments with players.

"It's been a good way to make the best of a bad situation," Minshew said. "With how everything is right now, it has been as close as we're getting. Hopefully, here soon we'll all get together and really get quality work together on the field."

Minshew said on a personal level he has worked to get to the proper weight to maximize his mobility and arm strength, gaining about 10 pounds shortly after the season and since dropping back to around the 220-to-225 pounds where he played last season.

"Figuring that out has been a fun process," he said. "I feel like I'm holding better weight. It's where I feel good running and where I feel good having enough juice behind the ball."

And while Minshew said being the starting quarterback hasn't changed his approach, getting first-team repetitions throughout training camp will be important.

"It's huge," he said. "You get to build those relationships and get a lot more timing with those guys. You get to know what they like and they kind of get to know what I like – and just build that trust. I'm very excited for that.

"Even now, being able to have those conversations with them – with receivers, running backs and linemen – I think that's already given us a leg up from last year."

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