JACKSONVILLE – If this was a tone-setting moment, know this:
No way was Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley going to let a little rain ruin the process of setting that tone. Not with a bunch of young guys who have been waiting for this day . . .
Well, just about all of their lives, pretty much.
Bradley put 53 rookies and first-year players – including all eight players selected last weekend in the 2013 NFL Draft – through a nearly two-hour practice in what at times was a hard, steady rain at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields outside EverBank Field Friday afternoon.
And, in the end, Bradley said it was a pretty productive day.
"It was good," Bradley said Friday afternoon shortly after the first of three scheduled practices in the Jaguars' 2013 rookie minicamp.
"We challenged the guys in the locker room. We just said, 'Hey, what a great opportunity to take our guys out there and see what they can do in this weather.' The quarterbacks were challenged, and our receivers catching the ball . . .
"I looked at it as really a good opportunity for our guys to try to execute in these conditions."
Bradley said quarterback Matt Scott – signed as a free agent shortly after the draft – appeared to sustain an ankle injury late in practice, and several players cramped during the hour-and-fifty-five-minute practice that also was marked at times by heavy winds.
"I think they're just learning the tempo of practice, too," Bradley said. "They were running a lot. They'll get over that."
Bradley, who said there was a contingency plan of practicing in the pavilion inside EverBank Field, said the weather didn't cause any change in the practice schedule.
Bradley said he wants to establish the same elements over the weekend as were established at a three-day veteran minicamp in mid-April – the level of play, the style of play, the importance of the ball, fundamentals of techniques.
"Those are the four core principles that we're trying to get done in this camp, as well as trying to evaluate some of these guys," Bradley said.
*Running back Denard Robinson stood out with two long runs despite the wet conditions. Robinson, who set an NCAA record for career rushing yards by a quarterback while at the University of Michigan, is moving to running back and also is working at wide receiver with the Jaguars. "He was good," Bradley said. "He's learning a couple of positions. You saw him line up at tailback and at wide receiver. We're throwing a lot at him."
*Robinson will miss the rest of minicamp to attend graduation ceremonies at Michigan. He will be the first person in his immediate family to graduate from a four-year college. He said he has at least 35 family members attending the commencement. "It's special to me," Robinson said. Bradley was asked if Robinson had received Bradley's blessing to attend graduation. "He got it," Bradley said, smiling.
"Along with Robinson, second-round safety Johnathan Cyprien perhaps showed the most immediate athleticism Friday. Cyprien's speed and ability to break on the ball was evident on several occasions, and his interception of a pass by Scott in a steady rain showed good hands and ability to make a play with the ball in the air. "That was one guy who really showed up in my eyes," Bradley said. "Not only is he playing, but we're watching if they can handle the tempo of practice and the style we're asking. He did a good job leading, too. I was very pleased with his start."
*Bradley said he liked what he saw from Scott early in practice. "It looked like he had a good skill set," Bradley said of Scott. "I'm excited to see how he progresses." Scott and former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers – the younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers – each practiced Friday after signing as college free agents Saturday. The third quarterback working Friday was former St. Augustine High School quarterback Kawaun Jakes of Western Kentucky.
*Bradley said despite the rainy conditions Friday and the possibility/probability of rain during training camp practices, he won't push hard for a practice bubble outside EverBank Field. "I have more things to be involved with than that," he said. Bradley noted that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan already has invested in new locker-room and training facilities. "Shad has been so good to us," he said. "He's been awesome through this whole deal."