JACKSONVILLE – These weren't normal practices.
But they were very definitely the first practices for the Jaguars under Head Coach Urban Meyer – and he just as definitely understood the significance.
So, before the first on-field work at Jaguars 2021 Rookie Minicamp presented by Baptist Health – before quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the rest of the '21 rookie class began practice – Meyer personally acknowledged the moment.
His first NFL practice. A new beginning. A new tone to be set.
"It was great to be out there," Meyer said Saturday following the second practice of camp. "I did take a minute like I normally do and just took a deep breath. I looked around at the stadium behind us and all of a sudden you see the Jaguars emblem, and then, 'It's get to work.'
"I had a moment and moved on."
Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in college football history, never previously worked in the NFL. The difference between these practices and his past approach were minimal, he said – and mostly came from the number of players.
Eighteen players participated in this minicamp, with multiple players sitting out because of past injuries and other situations. Rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell, the No. 33 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, sustained what Meyer called a "minor" hamstring injury Friday.
"We just wanted to slow it down," Meyer said. "I explained to our players: 'That's not a Jaguars practice. That's a rookie practice.' A Jaguars practice starts next week. That's much higher-tempo, much-more energy. When I was in college, I would sometimes bring the freshman in early, just to acclimate them.
"So that's the biggest difference. Other than that, it's all the same."
Meyer said he wanted to ensure rookies this weekend understood multiple aspects of the Jaguars – including culture and expectation, the team's approach to sports performance and practice habits.
"The final piece is to introduce offense and defense," Meyer said.
Meyer, who won national championships at Florida (2006 and 2008) and Ohio State (2014), said expectations here will be no different than past stops.
"We've always taken the approach we're going to try to win," Meyer said. "Every decision, everything associated with the organization is going to try to win. That includes training, practice, draft, free agency, etc."
Lawrence, like Meyer, experienced little failure in college – having gone 34-2 as a starter at Clemson with a national title following the 2018 season. He, too, said expectations are clear and lofty.
"All of the staff, management and everyone here brought me here to win and that's the main goal," he said. "So, I'm keeping the same mindset. There are different challenges as you move on to the next level, things change a little bit, you've got to adapt.
"That mindset never changes. You're always expecting to win and you prepare to win. So, I think that's why they brought me here. They didn't bring me here to expect to lose. I know we've got a lot of guys here that are ready to win and want to win.
"We're on the right track for sure."
*Meyer discussed the possibility of signing former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to play tight end. Tebow won the Heisman Trophy under Meyer at Florida in 2007, played quarterback in the NFL from 2010-2012 and never has played tight end professionally or collegiately. "I've leaned on my staff for that, and I imagine a decision is going to be soon," Meyer said. "We wanted to have them – because I have a new tight end coach (Tyler Bowen) as well – watch a guy like [rookie tight end] Luke [Farrell] and just get a feel for it. They [the coaching staff] are the ones who put him (Tebow) through a tryout a couple times – and see if he can help us win. All our focus is on the guys [in rookie camp] right now, and then we'll have a chat Sunday."
*Rookie defensive tackle Jay Tufele, the No. 106 overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft from Southern California, missed the first two days of the minicamp after having one positive and one negative COVID-19 test before camp. "We just decided to hold him out," Meyer said. "I think he'll be good to go tomorrow (Sunday)."
See the top photos from the Jaguars 2021 rookie minicamp.