JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from the Jaguars' scrimmage in front of more than 25,000 at EverBank Field Saturday ….
1.First steps.We begin these takeaways with the obvious – that the scrimmage at EverBank Field Saturday night was very much a beginning and not an end. The offense struggled early and improved late, with the highlight coming midway through when quarterback Blake Bortles completed three passes for 50 yards, including touchdowns of 25 yards to wide receiver Allen Robinson and 14 yards to tight end Julius Thomas. That stretch highlighted a solid night for Bortles, who finished 8-of-16 for 80 yards and three touchdowns in a controlled environment with no score kept. More than 25,000 attended, with Head Coach Gus Bradley saying "the offense started slow, but came back. I thought once they got in a rhythm, they did well. The defense was flying around pretty good and put them in some tough situations. I saw some execution things, but we'll get those things cleaned up. We're on schedule where we need to be."
2.Close call.The Jaguars got perhaps the best news possible shortly after the scrimmage. That's when X-rays of running back T.J. Yeldon's left hand showed no broken bones. Yeldon, a rookie second-round selection from Alabama, injured the hand on linebacker Jeremiah George's helmet scoring on a short run. "He should be good – they said a sprain (finger)," Bradley said of Yeldon, who had the hand heavily wrapped at night's end. Yeldon, who has looked impressive in camp, was solid Saturday, working with the first- and second-team offense. As has been the case throughout camp, Yeldon, Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart rotated carries with the first and second team, with Yeldon and Gerhart splitting wide as receivers at times. Yeldon, eventually expected to take on more and more of a No. 1 role, had a couple of intermediate runs early and also had a reception out of the backfield. Running back Storm Johnson also had a long run late in the scrimmage.
3.Bortles pleased.Bortles said after the scrimmage he was pleased for the most part, and he was right to feel that way. Bortles in general continued to look calm and poised in the pocket, and he continues to look like an improved player in training camp. Not only did he complete 8-of-16 for 80 yards and three touchdowns Saturday, he had a long pass to wide receiver Allen Hurns that skimmed from Hurns' fingers for a would-be 40-yard gain. Bortles on that play showed presence in the pocket, which he did for the most part Saturday despite a couple of early protection issues. "You can just see his confidence," Bradley said, with Bortles adding, "Obviously, we have a lot to work, but to get out there for the first time in a game situation, I thought there was some good stuff."
4.A glimpse of things to come?The Jaguars hope that's what they saw with Bortles' back-to-back touchdown passes to Robinson and Thomas midway through the scrimmage. Bortles first hit Robinson on the 25-yarder to the right side, with the second-year veteran beating starting cornerback Davon House off play action. House appeared to slightly hold Robinson, who ran through the contact to make a diving reception in the end zone. "I have to continue to do that, to make plays for this team," Robinson said. "When my number is called, I have to produce." Bortles dropped his next pass over the shoulder to Thomas, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Denver in the offseason. Thomas' strength is in the red zone and Robinson is a player with size and ability to use his physicality to out-muscle defenders for the ball, so this was a case of two players showing their strengths. "You don't want to put too much on a catch in a scrimmage, but we're starting to get a little more chemistry and starting to understand what he's looking to do and what I'm looking to do," Thomas said. Of Robinson and Thomas, Bortles said, "Those are two of the three guys who can jump and are definitely red-zone threats."
Take a look at some of the action from Saturday night's #JAXCamp Scrimmage.
5.Final thoughts.A few more thoughts from the 'Bank … Bernard Pierce continued to impress, breaking a long run early and continuing to make running back one of the deeper competitions in camp. . … Cornerback Aaron Colvin had a pass breakup defending Robinson, and also moved from outside to inside. That's further indication Colvin will play both inside in nickel situations along with outside come the regular season. … Defensive end Jared Odrick disrupted the offense early. … Rookie cornerback Nick Marshall worked with the second-team defense, having a pass breakup and a near interception late. He continues to look likely to make the roster… Bradley liked the play of the offensive line and the pass protection overall – that despite the unit allowing two early sacks and at least one more sack late. "I thought the backs tied in with the offensive line as far as protection," Bradley said. "The defense brought some pressure at them. There were some things we missed, but I thought overall they worked together. It's coming, but we still have a ways to go." … Defensive end Ryan Davis continued to make plays given the opportunity, intercepting a tipped pass in the first half. … You wouldn't expect final word on a starting role off of a scrimmage and there was no decision made at center Saturday. Bradley said Stefen Wisniewski and Luke Bowanko continue to compete, with Bowanko working with the first team Saturday because it was his day in the rotation to do so.