JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines Friday's Jaguars 2016 Mock Game, in which QB Blake Bortles threw three touchdown passes and DE Dante Fowler and WR Allen Robinson continued to shine
The summing up
The atmosphere changed, but the theme remained the same.
Dante Fowler Jr. and Allen Robinson have been the stars and the storylines of Jaguars 2016 Training Camp, and guess what?
They were the stars of the '16 scrimmage, too.
Fowler, the Jaguars' second-year defensive end, continued to make the defensive plays that made him the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 Draft – and Robinson continued to show he may be even better than he was during his breakout Pro Bowl season of 2015.
Fowler missed his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, making Friday night's session his first appearance at EverBank Field in a Jaguars uniform.
"It was fun, being able to get back out here under the crowd and under the lights," Fowler said after the practice, which was attended by an announced crowd of 27,352. "Once you're under the lights, you have to take advantage of this kind of stuff. I'm very blessed to be back in this position."
Fowler harassed quarterback Blake Bortles early, and he penetrated enough on a second-half run play to draw a holding penalty on right tackle Jermey Parnell. He also had a tackle for a loss and harassed Bortles on several occasions.
"He was good, especially early," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said of Fowler. "I felt him. You can feel his rush – very sudden, just like you see in practice. That's what we told these guys; make sure you carry over from practice into a heightened environment. A lot of the guys did."
No score was kept at the controlled practice, which featured Jaguars coaches putting the offense, defense and special teams in specific game-type situations.
Bortles overcame a 1-for-5 start to complete 11 of 21 passes for 91 yards and three touchdowns. Bortles also ran for a three-yard touchdown.
Robinson, who has shined throughout camp after making his first Pro Bowl appearance last season, caught four passes for 62 yards. His last reception set up Bortles' second touchdown pass – a two-yarder to tight end Marcedes Lewis.
"We just have to continue to build on what we've built," Robinson said. "We came out here today and started out a little slow, but we picked it up."
Lewis caught two short touchdown passes, and Bortles' first touchdown was a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas.
Running back Denard Robinson also ran for a touchdown in a goal-line situation in the second half.
"You like to feel some good things, plays being made on both sides of the ball," Bradley said. "Some young guys … I know they were really excited about playing tonight and to see them come out and play under control and make some plays was good."
In and out
Wide receiver Marqise Lee did not participate because of a hamstring issue. He has missed the last seven practices. Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum also did not participate.
Beachum, returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him the final 10 games of last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. The team is being cautious with his return.
Also not participating Friday were center Brandon Linder (groin), running back Jonas Gray (quad), wide receiver Shaq Evans (lower leg) and cornerback Davon House (hamstring).
Play of the game
This came on a pass from Bortles on the first-team offense's third drive of the game. With wide receivers Bryan Walters, Allen Hurns and Robinson split wide to the left side, Bortles dropped and threw a fade to Thomas on the right side. Thomas got a step on strong safety Johnathan Cyprien and Bortles dropped a perfect pass in the end zone that Thomas caught for the scrimmage's first touchdown.
*Reserve running back Joe Banyard had a one-yard touchdown run. …
*Wide receiver Rashad Greene had a 20-yard reception down the middle of the field from quarterback Chad Henne. …
*Walters had a 10-yard run on a reverse early in the scrimmage. …
"It is a process. Every day, for him, it's just concentrate on improving. He still has a lot of things to work on right there and that's the focus and intention. It's good to feel that type of pressure."
---Bradley on Fowler
"I felt like the last three or four days our DB [defensive backs] coverage has been a lot tighter – A lot more challenging drills. We're going to put a lot of work into it, especially in the red-zone area. You can tell when we look at it on film, but it felt tighter from the back side."
---Bradley on the recent play of the secondary
*The left-tackle battle continues to be on hold. With Beachum out a third consecutive day, the team worked Luke Joeckel extensively at the starting left guard position on Friday. Those two are expected to battle for the left tackle position, with the loser moving to left guard. Joeckel's extensive work at guard makes sense because he needs the repetitions never having played the position. Josh Wells worked at the starting left tackle position most of the first half Friday.
*Grant's going to be hard to keep off the roster. His 65-yard run in the second half was yet another example of his difference-making speed and he appears to be leading the kickoff return battle. "He shows up," Bradley said of Grant. "He has something back there that we don't have."