JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines Jaguars 2016 Training Camp Day One, with an eye on rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey, rookie linebacker Myles Jack and safety Tashaun Gipson
It's too early to anoint him a star.
It's even too early to know Jalen Ramsey's exact role.
But it's not too early to say the Jaguars' rookie cornerback looks the part of the No. 5 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, and it's pretty obvious Ramsey's going to play a key role in the secondary – perhaps even multiple roles.
That was a takeaway from the Jaguars' first practice of 2016 Training Camp Thursday, a two-and-half-hour session in which Ramsey worked at both nickel and outside corner.
"I was really impressed with him at nickel," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said early Thursday afternoon. "He really jumped in there – and boy, it seemed like a lot of the techniques came natural to him. I kept a close eye on him and that was impressive."
Thursday's practice was Ramsey's first since sustaining a small meniscus tear that kept him out of organized team activities and the team's three-day mid-June minicamp. Bradley said Wednesday the team will monitor his return, but Ramsey appeared to work full throughout Thursday's session.
Jaguars coaches initially planned to work Ramsey only at outside corner to allow him to fully learn one position. That changed when coaches got the impression Ramsey could handle multiple positions.
"[Jaguars defensive assistant and longtime NFL defensive coordinator] Monte Kiffin always said, 'Gus if you can talk to somebody over the phone and they can pick up and you can talk football with them and you can talk concept with them that's usually a pretty good sign,''' Bradley said. "You rarely see that; sometimes with a player. You can have those kinds of conversations with Jalen."
With nickel corner Aaron Colvin suspended the first four games of the regular season, Ramsey likely will play a role there early. He could play exclusively nickel with Prince Amukamara and Davon House at outside corner. Or, he could start outside opposite House and move to nickel in passing situations.
The latter is a tough task mentally, but it's starting to look like one he can handle.
Getting a grasp
As expected, rookie Myles Jack – a second-round draft selection – worked with the second team at middle linebacker in base situations Thursday. Jack likely will play extensively in passing situations with his role in base situations yet to be determined.
"I feel like I had a decent day," Jack said. "I'll try to build on that and continue to get better. It will come. The coaches said I did well, so I'll continue and try to learn in these meetings."
Sen'Derrick Marks said he feels good entering camp. The veteran three-technique tackle led the team with 8.5 sacks in 2014 before missing the first five games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and the last seven with a torn triceps. "I expect to be healthy," Marks said. "I just hope I can stay healthy. My plan this offseason was to try to regain the form of the way I was. I feel good. I feel light on my feet. I feel like I still have my quickness. I don't feel like I lost anything, but we'll see when we get further along in training camp."
Malik Jackson, a defensive tackle who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March, lost 13 pounds between minicamp and training camp and said he feels better for it. "Before I left, Coach [defensive coordinator Todd] Wash was like, 'Lose weight and get your cardio better,'' Jackson said. "That's what I did. I like where I'm at." Jackson added with a smile, "I've got to keep doing a few sit-ups, but the arms look good. Did you see these arms?"
- While Ramsey stood out on Day One, the increased overall defensive talent was evident. It's a faster, more-athletic unit – as evidenced by the athleticism of players such as rookie defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue. Bradley mentioned the explosiveness of both after practice. …
*Fowler worked with the starters Thursday; Ngakoue, with the second team. The starting base defense early was Fowler (Leo), Malik Jackson (tackle), Roy Miller (nose tackle), Jared Odrick (end), Dan Skuta (Otto), Telvin Smith (weak-side linebacker), Prince Amukamara/Ramsey (corner), Davon House (corner), Johnathan Cyprien (strong safety) and Tashaun Gipson (free safety). …
*The secondary turned in a solid day, with House and Gipson intercepting passes. As he did during organized team activities and minicamp, Gipson showed signs of being the side-to-side, playmaking free safety the team has lacked in recent seasons. His interception was an alert play he caught inches from the ground. "You can get lulled to sleep," Bradley said of the free safety position. "You're playing middle-third or you're playing halves and you're doing it over and over. If you're not on it you can get bored and take a play off here or a play off there. That's not the case for him. That has really stood out to me in OTAs and again here." …