JACKSONVILLE – Rayshawn Jenkins was as succinct as he was confident.
The seventh-year safety spoke following Day 3 practice of Jaguars 2023 Training Camp at the Miller Electric Center Friday. A defensive leader, Jenkins was asked what the Jaguars' defense wants to show this season considering the team is largely known for offense.
"That we are top five defense in the league," Jenkins said. "That's just real."
And is this defense that?
"Absolutely," he said.
This was a day for defense at '23 training camp. Jenkins spoke to the media following a two-hour, non-padded practice under gray skies and sporadic rain. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell held his first media availability of ’23 camp shortly before practice.
Caldwell covered multiple topics Friday, including the development of second-year linebackers Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd – comments that can be found HERE. He also spoke of his own development entering his second season as a defensive coordinator.
"The main thing is just going back, me being comfortable," Caldwell said. "Anytime it's your second time going around … the first time everything's new. This time, everything is still new, but I have a little more confidence in being able to help the guys put them in certain positions."
The Jaguars in 2022 ranked 24th in the NFL in yards allowed (353.2) in the defense's first season under Caldwell. They ranked 12th in points allowed (20.6) and tied for fourth in takeaways with 27 – 14 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries.
"It's always good to come back into a scheme or situation that is familiar," Jenkins said. "When I was with the [Los Angeles] Chargers, we were in the same scheme for all four years. That really played to my benefit. I feel like the same thing could happen here as well.
"Last year we were just getting familiar with the play calls, the coaches and everything. Now, we know the things that can beat us. We know what plays to our advantage and what plays to our disadvantages. It's always good to come back to a familiar scheme."
The defense in 2022 also turned in multiple big plays in crucial situations. Outside linebacker Josh Allen’s touchdown return off a fumble forced by Jenkins provided the winning points in an AFC South-clinching victory over the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season finale, and Jenkins' interception return for a touchdown in overtime provide beat the Dallas Cowboys in a key game in the Jaguars' late-season run to the postseason.
"Just like [Jaguars senior defensive assistant] Bob Sutton always says, 'You move toward your most dominant thought,''' Jenkins said. "It constantly has to just be on your mind when you're out here on his practice field. You have to be thinking about the turnovers.
"You can't just go through the motions and just say, 'Hey, let's get through practice today. It's, 'Hey, I have to take the ball away.'''
That's one part of what Jenkins called the overall goal of proving that one of the best defenses in the NFL at forcing turnovers last season can become one of the best overall.
"We put some good things on film last year," Jenkins said. "This year is about being more consistent. We had some we had some highs, we had some lows, but I don't want to fall to 2-6 like we did last year: Just come out here and not play behind the eight ball. Let's just get things going early and have people have to catch up to us."
Jenkins added of observers overlook this defense, "It's all good. It just keeps that chip on our shoulder, then that just gives us another thing to come out here and work at. The critics want to say how we're not this and not that.
"I don't even think we had any accolades on defense last year. It's just another thing to keep working towards, and we'll get it."
Here's a look at Friday's practice:
PLAY OF THE DAY
- Day 3 practice emphasized red-zone and run offense, which meant it wasn't a day for huge plays downfield. The day's highlight came from backup quarterback C.J. Beathard. During a red-zone drill. Beathard threw a high arching pass to the right side of the end zone. The pass was perfectly timed, with third-year wide receiver Seth Williams catching it just inside the sideline and raising his hands above his head as the MEC crowd cheered.
- Three plays that stood out came from quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who looked efficient and confident with the offense compressed and mostly working inside the defense's 20-yard line. The third-year veteran quarterback completed multiple touchdown passes through tight coverage, including one to wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the middle of the field and two in the back corner of the end zone to first-year tight end Gerrit Prince.
- Running backs Tank Bigsby and Travis Etienne Jr. both had nice runs through the middle during an extended run period Friday…
- Wide receiver Jamal Agnew had a 10-yard run off left tackle after a pitch from Lawrence in 11-on-11 red-zone work…
- Wide receiver Tim Jones caught a 10-yard slant from Lawrence early in 11-on-11 work…
- Rookie tight end Brenton Strange had a 20-yard reception over the middle from Beathard early in 11-on-11…
- Defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot and left guard Ben Bartch remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start training camp.