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Training Camp 2020: Jones says improving run defense "on our shoulders…"

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive linemen Abry Jones, left, and Taven Bryan perform a drill during an NFL football workout, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive linemen Abry Jones, left, and Taven Bryan perform a drill during an NFL football workout, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

JACKSONVILLE – Abry Jones knows what's expected.

The Jaguars must improve against the run this season, and the veteran defensive tackle said Thursday that means there's a clear reality for his position group.

"Really, we just have to put it on our shoulders," Jones said.

Jones, speaking to the media via videoconference following a morning 2020 Training Camp practice, said the Jaguars often weren't far from being good against the run last season. But he said some fundamental errors caused too many struggles in the area.

The Jaguars last season finished 28th in the NFL against the run, allowing 200 or more yards rushing in five games. They allowed the total four times during a five-game losing streak in which the team slipped from 4-4 to 4-9 and out of playoff contention.

"We saw a lot of things where we were in position to make a play, but little things like hand placement and keeping our shoulders square kept us from doing that," Jones said.

The Jaguars in the offseason traded three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens. They added defensive tackle Al Woods as an unrestricted free agent, but Woods opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19. The team this past weekend placed second-year defensive tackle Dontavius Russell on injured reserve.

"We lost people on this D-line," Jones said. "The outside noise is expecting us to drop off. We just have to use that to motivate ourselves. We watch film every day. Everyone feels like they have a chip on their shoulders because they know they're a better player than that."

Also on Thursday:

*Jones said his message to teammates regarding social distancing and COVID-19 is simple: "You made the decision to come play football, so don't ruin it for yourselves and don't ruin it for your team.  We're just letting guys know that this is really affecting people's families. When we come in this building, we're all brothers, but if you're not doing your thing outside the building and you bring something into us, we're going to be pissed. There's going to be separation in the room and it's going to divide the team. And that's something we can't have." …

*Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone addressed Wednesday's passing of longtime NFL offensive lineman/offensive line coach Howard Mudd, widely considered one of the best offensive line coaches of his generation. Marrone – previously an offensive line coach with the New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and Jaguars – said Mudd took him under his wing early in his NFL coaching career. "I don't know why I was granted that by him, and when you're talking about the great line coaches … he's up there," Marrone said. "Every time I was able to get a player who had played for Howard, it made my job a lot easier. Technically, he was just such a good football coach and got the most out of his players. … He was always there for me. I miss him greatly and my heart goes out to [wife] Shirley and his family. It's a sad day for the NFL. It's a sad day for a lot of players. It's a sad time, really, for all of us. He was a great man who gave everything to this game." Mudd, a three-time Pro Bowl selection from 1966-1968, coached for eight teams from 1974-2012. …

*Defensive end Josh Allen continued to be a major topic of 2020 Training Camp, with Marrone again praising the second-year veteran's offseason approach. "I can't say enough," Marrone said. "He looks great. He's moving better than he has moved before. He's communicating much more with his teammates and really trying to set a standard, which I think is important. What a great player to look up to, to see what he's doing. … There are a lot of great things ahead for him in his career. We're excited about him." …

*Marrone again praised rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., saying of the second-round draft selection from Colorado: "We're putting a lot on him. He's an incredible athlete. I don't think you realize until you actually see him up close how big he is, how strong he is, how powerful he is. He can play multiple positions and it's just a matter of, 'Hey, let's get him off to a good start' – which he has. He catches the ball extremely well. He can get in and out of cuts. It's going to be an exciting camp for that group. There's going to be a lot of competition there, and it's going to be good for everybody.'' …

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