JACKSONVILLE – The day was tough, and the emotions were real.
The Jaguars held their first padded practice of 2020 Training Camp practice Monday. Before that, Head Coach Doug Marrone addressed yet another difficult day at defensive tackle.
With defensive lineman Rodney Gunter being placed on the reserve/retired list Monday morning, the Jaguars signed unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. But Marrone's focus early Monday was less on the transaction and more on Gunter – who announced Sunday night he will step away from football because of an enlarged aorta.
"It's just an awful feeling; it really is," Marrone said via videoconference early Monday. "It's just tough."
Gunter, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Arizona this past offseason, is the latest of several defensive tackles the Jaguars have lost in recent weeks. Al Woods, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Seattle, opted out of the 2020 season at the start of training camp because of COVID-19.
Gunter and Woods had been signed in the offseason with the idea of helping solidify a run defense that ranked 28th in the NFL last season – and that allowed more than 200 yards in five games. The Jaguars also recently placed second-year defensive tackle Dontavius Russell on injured reserve with a hip injury.
"Stopping the run has been a big focus for us," Marrone said. "Some of the moves we made, some of those guys aren't here. It's going to put a challenge for us to make sure we find those guys, develop those guys – whichever way we have to do it, that's something we have to get done. We're continuing to keep working on that."
Marrone said the team has offered Gunter an off-field position.
"It's our goal to try to get him here in a capacity where he can help our football team, which I think he can," Marrone said. "So, we extended that to him. Obviously, it's during a difficult time with a lot going on."
Jernigan, a second-round selection by Baltimore in the 2014 NFL Draft from Florida State University, is a seventh-year NFL veteran who played three seasons with the Ravens and the past three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"We're looking forward to seeing what he can do," Marrone said.
Jernigan's signing came on a newsy day around the Jaguars. Also Monday:
*Marrone announced Josh Oliver, a tight end selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, sustained a broken bone in his foot while running in a non-contact situation Sunday. Oliver, who played just four games as a rookie because of hamstring and back issues, will undergo surgery Tuesday. "It's just an unfortunate thing," Marrone said. "It could happen to any of us. You understand the contact part of it, but the non-contact stuff just happens. I guess you just chalk it up to being a bad break. He was in shape. He was doing really well. He was real excited. He's devastated, obviously, because it showed he put a lot of work in coming in."
*Marrone announced that second-year reserve weak-side linebacker Quincy Williams underwent successful core muscle surgery. Marrone said a decision on Williams' roster designation has not yet been made. "We just wait to see what happens after surgery is over, and we look at where he is from a rehab standpoint," Marrone said. "Those decisions will be made later or when we get more information."
*Marrone announced that starting weak-side linebacker Myles Jack will not practice Monday because of illness. Marrone said the illness does not appear to be COVID-19 related. "Hopefully, we'll be able to get him back once he feels better," Marrone said. "It sounds like just symptoms of being under the weather, but in this day and age we've got to be careful."
*The Jaguars held their first padded practice of 2020 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Home Practice Complex. Marrone said the practice is limited to 90 minutes by NFL/NFL Players Association rules governing the return protocols around COVID-19.