Training Camp 2020: Caldwell likes what he sees in Minshew

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Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II (15) celebrates with fans after the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE – David Caldwell likes what he sees from the quarterback.

"He's done a hell of a job," he said.

Caldwell's thoughts on quarterback Gardner Minshew II were part of the Jaguars' general manager's first media availability of 2020 Training Camp Tuesday – a videoconference in which in addition to other topics he spoke about defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, running back Leonard Fournette and the possibility of losing college football this season because of COVID-19.

"I'm anxious to see what the resolution of what the college season is," Caldwell said. "I know some conferences have canceled."

Caldwell said the Jaguars have worked on scouting college players already and could "make good, educated" decisions on players in the 2021 NFL Draft without a college season. He also said uncertainty around college football doesn't give him pause about the prospects of a complete NFL season.

"It's two different situations," Caldwell said. "The protocols in the NFL and the resources we have in the NFL … you've got to give a lot of credit to the league office and the NFL Players Association and the plan they put together. You can really see it working on a day-to-day basis when you come into the building.

"I feel confident we're going to have football. In our building, we'd like to think everybody's taking care of their business and doing the right thing. Hopefully, that continues throughout the league."

Caldwell also emphasized that he liked what he has seen in recent weeks from Minshew, who enters 2020 Training Camp as the starter after replacing Week 1 starter Nick Foles and going 6-6 as a rookie sixth-round draft selection last season.

"He's had a great offseason," Caldwell said. "He has come in in shape. He's really attacked the new offense under [new offensive coordinator] Jay [Gruden]. We'll wait to see how this all unfolds, but I know he has a good mindset. His character and his work ethic has been really evident coming in this offseason."

Also on Tuesday:

*Caldwell said he has talked with Fournette about offseason reports that he could be traded, and about the team's decision to not pick up the running back's fifth-year option for the 2021 season – a move that means Fournette is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2020 season. "Leonard's in a good spot," Caldwell said. "We have had conversations. … We talked about not exercising his fifth-year option and that it's not necessarily a bad thing for him, and that he has to have a great year and put his best foot forward." …

*Caldwell said he isn't overly concerned about the team's youth this season. The Jaguars have one of the NFL's youngest rosters – and because of COVID-19, training camp marks the first time the teams' 12-player 2020 NFL Draft class will practice against NFL competition. "I don't necessarily think it's a major issue, being a young team this year," he said. "I like our youth. I like our guys. I have a lot of faith in our coaching staff and how they're going to develop our young guys." The Jaguars lost three veterans in the last week who opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19: defensive tackle Al Woods, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and defensive end Lerentee McCray. Caldwell noted the additions of free agents such as tight end Tyler Eifert and linebacker Joe Schobert as adding needed experience. "On both sides of the ball, we've got guys who are smart and competitive – good team guys, good leaders," Caldwell said. …

*Caldwell on players who opted out: "This isn't a game that you can be 85 percent at and go through a season. You have to be 100 percent committed. When some of the players started questioning and I felt they were going down that road, I had some good conversations with them. Everybody has their own reasons and you respect the reasons. The last thing I wanted was have a player come in and not be 100 percent in what we're doing and getting hurt. The guys who opted out, I don't think were a huge surprise knowing their situations.'' …

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