JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew II did what he needed to do the past few days.
“It’s been a good week,” Minshew said Tuesday following Day 15 practice of 2019 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
Next for the Jaguars’ rookie backup quarterback:
Turn that good week into a good performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Jaguars’ preseason home opener at TIAA Bank Field Thursday at 7 p.m.
He likely will get an extensive opportunity Thursday. Head Coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday he plans to follow much the same formula for playing time against the Eagles that he did in last week’s preseason opener, when 30 players were held out of a 29-0 loss at Baltimore.
Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, started that game and struggled at times. He completed 7 of 14 passes for 46 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions while playing the first half.
The Jaguars still want Minshew to be the backup to starter Nick Foles this season, and Marrone talked highly of Minshew Tuesday.
“I like the kid,” Marrone said.
Take a look at images from Tuesday's practice as the Jaguars prepare for the Eagles.
Marrone said Minshew has shown the traits that team officials liked when they drafted him: good decision-making, toughness, poise – and perhaps most notably, a high football IQ.
“What’s really unusual about him is he can take that information and go out on the field and really know what you want,” Marrone said. “That’s unique. A lot of times you kind of have to walk through it, you have to see it, you have to do it. You can tell him what you want in a classroom and he can go out on the field and pretty much know exactly what you want. Which I think is a benefit.”
That’s the positive about Minshew. The worry entering the draft was the arm strength that appeared to be an issue at times in Baltimore. Minshew responded to difficult plays multiple times against the Ravens with completions and good decisions. He also looked more accurate and efficient in practice this week and put together perhaps his best stretch of practice the last four days.
“He’s had a good week and he has made progress during the week,” Marrone said. “Now it’s just a matter of can he do it at that level at a consistent basis. It’s young, he’s young. Again, a lot of times it’s just being mentally tough and not caving in to the stuff on the outside, the noise. That happens to a lot of people. I don’t see that in him. He is one tough sucker now, so I’m excited, I really am.”
Other takeaways from Thursday:
*Marrone likes a lot about the defensive line. “I feel like we have good starters, and I feel like we have good depth,” Marrone said, adding that the position may feature the toughest decision in the cut the 53 players in early September: “We have guys now that are in there that are pretty good that it’s going to be a tough call.” Marrone lauded not only veterans such as defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and ends Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, but young players such as tackle Taven Bryan and end Dawuane Smoot. He also spoke highly of tackles Dontavius Russell and Michael Hughes and end Datone Jones. He had perhaps his highest praise for rookie edge defender Josh Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. “He looks like he’s getting bigger, and stronger and faster each day when you see him, and that’s exciting,” Marrone said. “He can do so much.”
*Also standing out in recent weeks: veteran linebacker Najee Goode, who has started at weak-side linebacker since rookie/projected starter Quincy Williams sustained a minor meniscus tear early in camp. “I like Goode,” Marrone said. “He’s really done a nice job. He’s someone that has flexibility. You’ll see that in how we’re going to play him, too. He can play Will [linebacker], he can play Mike [linebacker], he can do a lot of things for us. He’s good on [special] teams. He’s got really good leadership skills. He’s a great communicator. I’ve been really, really pleased with him.” Goode, an eight-year veteran who played with Tampa Bay (2012), Philadelphia (2013-2017) and Indianapolis (2018), joined the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason. Goode said he has studied how former Jaguars weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith approached the position in recent seasons. “Dude’s a Top 100 linebacker,” Goode of Smith, now on the reserve/retired list after announcing in the offseason he didn’t plan to play this season. Goode is at 6-feet-0, 244 pounds compared to Smith’s 6-3, 218. “We’re definitely built different,” Goode said. “He’s a wiry dude who can get to the ball, hands down. … One thing I do have on him is years. I’m familiar with this defense. I’m actually using that to my advantage and going out there and flying around.” Goode said the defenses for which he played in Philadelphia and Indianapolis had elements of the Jaguars’ defense, with those familiarities helping his transition.