JACKSONVILLE – He knows just one way.
“I try to treat every day like it’s game,” Gardner Minshew said Thursday.
That intensity – along with a very famous mustache – has made the rookie a fan favorite, and it has been his approach as he tries to earn the Jaguars’ backup quarterback position.
“I come out every day and try to compete my tail off, and be the best I can for the team,” Minshew said late Thursday morning following Day 7 practice of Jaguars 2019 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
“It’s not fair to the other guys if I say, ‘I’m just a rookie. I’ve got all these years down the road.’ Nah, I have to come out every day because that’s what these guys are doing.
Minshew is one topic of this ’19 training camp update. We’ll also cover Head Coach Doug Marrone’s thoughts on a promising young tight end and NBC Sports’ Peter King’s thoughts on the Jaguars in general.
The first topic – Minshew’s progress – could be critical to the Jaguars’ season.
The Jaguars selected Minshew in Round 6 of the 2018 NFL Draft, and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin spoke highly after the draft of Minshew’s football IQ and decision-making ability. It’s not yet accurate to call Minshew starting quarterback Nick Foles’ backup, but he will get every opportunity to earn the position.
His assessment of his progress?
“There’s good and bad,” Minshew said. “I like how I’m progressing and like how I’m learning, but I’m definitely not satisfied with where I’m at.”
Minshew, who set Pac-12 records for passing yards and completions as a senior at Washington State this past season, has had the flashes and setbacks expected of a rookie in his first training camp. He threw several interceptions in the first few days of camp. On Thursday, he made one his best throws of camp when he found veteran wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. behind the defense for a long touchdown.
Minshew said the touchdown to Pryor was an example of he must do – i.e., understand that mistakes will happen, learn from them and improve.
“Yesterday, I had trouble with some of the long looks the defense was giving us,” Minshew said. “Today, I came back threw a big touchdown on it. You learn, improvise, adapt and overcome. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.
“It’s a process – getting more comfortable. And then there are things day to day that you learn: ‘OK, this is different look from the defense and this is what we’re going to want to get into.’ Also, watching these other guys, you pick up a lot of stuff. It’s a ton of learning and trying to soak up as much as you can in a short window. It’s a lot of fun.”
Other takeaways from Thursday around ’19 camp:
*A highlight of Marrone’s Thursday pre-practice media availability came when he was discussing the tight ends. Marrone spoke highly of rookie Josh Oliver and veterans Geoff Swaim, James O’Shaughnessy and Ben Koyack before discussing in depth undrafted rookie Charles Jones. Jones (6-feet-4, 255 pounds), who played collegiately at Tulane University, is impressive physically for the position – and Marrone emphasized that Jones has a real chance to make the 53-man roster. “In my mind, he’s way better than what the path was,” Marrone said. “This guy is competing now for a job. It’s going to be interesting to see how that whole group shakes out. I think we have quality from top to bottom and again, it is going to be interesting once we start playing, but there is not anyone there that is a camp type body.”
*King, an NFL writer for Sports Illustrated for three decades now with NBC Sports, visited Jaguars camp Thursday. His thoughts: “I definitely think Nick Foles is going to be better now in a full season than he was the last time he was asked to be a full-season player. The defense is Top 10 in the league assuming [defensive end Yannick] Ngakoue comes back at some point. It will not surprise me if this team goes 11-5 – even in this tough division. It won’t surprise me if they go 7-9, either; I don’t think they will be much worse than that because there are just too many good players on this team – too many guys you’ve seen play well over a long period of time.”
*More King: “I just think so much of it is Foles-related and how high he can rise his game. One important addition is [wide receiver Chris] Conley. He was such a valuable player in such an explosive offense [with the Kansas City Chiefs last season]. I think that’s a really, really good under-the-radar acquisition.”
Images from Thursday morning's practice.