JACKSONVILLE – Consider the rookies oriented.
At the very least, the 25 players who spent the last few days around EverBank Field know a little more about the NFL and the Jaguars than they did a few days ago.
So, in that sense, "Mission accomplished."
"Very pleased with how it went the last couple of days," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Saturday afternoon.
The Jaguars altered this weekend's approach from past offseasons. Whereas in years past under Bradley the team held a rookie minicamp with on-field practice sessions for the new players, the weekend this year was a rookie orientation.
That meant greater emphasis on meetings and introducing schemes with limited on-field work.
"We've been looking at this for some time now: 'What's the best way for our players to learn?''' Bradley said. "You've heard me say before, 'Learn the learner.' We spent a lot of time individually with players. They had a lot of one-on-one attention time with our coaches."
Nine draft selections, nine undrafted rookies, seven first-year veterans and two tryout players attended the session this weekend.
The Jaguars were on the field for about an hour Saturday, with Bradley saying the emphasis for the weekend was on creating the best environment to learn.
"We took the approach, 'Let's slow it down, calm everything down and build a really good foundation," Bradley said. "When we went on the field it was more of a skill orientation. We didn't come together [as a team] on defense. On offense, they came together a little bit, but defensively, it was mainly with position coaches. We just broke down every skill set they would use."
Also on around the Jaguars Saturday:
*Bradley said rookie second-round linebacker Myles Jack worked mainly as a middle linebacker over the weekend, with the idea being that learning that position will introduce him to as much of the overall defense as possible. "That's just so he can learn the whole defense and how we set up the whole defense," Bradley said. "We're starting him off there to give him a good feel for how the defense operates." …
*Bradley also spoke highly of his first impressions of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the No. 5 overall selection in the draft. "He's done a great job of staying in shape and coming in and being able to jump into drills," Bradley said. "He's a guy who has really good length and really good speed, and as you can imagine: those things showed up in some of the drills we did." …
*Jack, considered one of the best athletes in the 2016 NFL Draft class, was equally impressed with the athleticism of a couple of his new teammates this weekend. On Ramsey and third-round defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, Jack said, "You can definitely see it. Coming from college and then coming up to the pros, seeing rookies like that and just seeing their athleticism – I haven't seen the vets – but seeing them in action, it's a major difference. A guy like Jalen, of course to be as long and as tall as he is but to move so fluid and everything … and then Yannick, Yannick is just a beast, man. He's really flexible, really nimble. It's definitely cool to see the guys you came in with and just seeing what they bring to the table." …
*Bradley said veteran offensive lineman Brandon Linder has worked primarily at center so far in the early stage of the team's offseason program. The team is considering moving Linder to the position after playing at right guard as a rookie in 2014 and for the first three games of last season before a season-ending labrum injury. "I know he feels really good about it," Bradley said. "We threw him there with the guys and it appears to be a very natural position for him.'' …
*Second-year veteran A.J. Cann, a 13-game starter at right guard last season, again has been working at right guard so far in the offseason according to Bradley.
*Bradley said of the rookie class, "This is a really, really sharp group. I don't know if it's because we slowed things down, but they seem to really pick things up quick."
*Bradley also said sixth-round quarterback Brandon Allen "really stood out" during the orientation. "He appears to be a really quick study," adding that Allen also appears "really solid: in terms of fundamentals and throwing mechanics. "He was a topic of conversation, just how smooth he looked," Bradley said.
*Bradley also said he has been impressed early by fourth-round defensive tackle Sheldon Day's quickness and power. "He's really powerful coming out of his stance – the sled work we did," he said. "You look at it and say, 'Can he be that inside rusher? He's very strong and a very good technician as well."