JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew II hasn't felt this in a long time.
For the Jaguars' second-year quarterback, that's a good thing. That's because what Minshew's feeling these days is what it's like to be the starter entering Jaguars 2020 Training Camp.
It's a feeling Minshew likes. A lot.
"I actually haven't had a camp like this, going into it, since I guess my senior of high school; it's awesome," Minshew said.
Minshew, who took over as the Jaguars' starter this offseason after going 6-6 as a starter as a rookie last season, hardly looks uncomfortable in the role.
"I've been impressed with Gardner," Jaguars first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said.
Minshew was the clear leader among Jaguars quarterbacks in a non-padded, walkthrough practice Wednesday – the first '20 camp practice open to media. Minshew often could be heard instructing the Jaguars' younger quarterbacks and teammates, and Gruden on Wednesday praised Minshew's early command of the offense.
"It starts with being able to call the play in the huddle and he's been great," Gruden said. "You've got to be able to spit the play out in the huddle. There are a lot of words, formations, motions, shifts – and then the concept of protection. He's done a great job of spitting that out."
Gruden said Minshew has responded well early in camp as the Jaguars begin installing the offense in Gruden's first season with the team.
"We're starting the meat and potatoes of our offense," Gruden said. "I like where his mind's at, number one. We're trying to challenge him with these challenges and protections. So far, it's been great.
"He's got a skillset that's really unlike a lot of players at that quarterback position. He's not real tall. He doesn't have a cannon, but he's just a highly competitive guy. He's got great anticipation and accuracy. He can make plays happen when the plays break down.
"It's going to be fun to work with him."
Minshew for his part spent the offseason not only participating in the Jaguars' virtual offseason program, but working with his performance coach Anthony Tumbarello, in Naples, Fla. He focused on speed and strength, he said, and also focused on pocket presence and footwork.
"That was a huge part of what I did," Minshew said. "Basically, every time I was throwing I had somebody knocking at the ball or just around me trying to work the subtle movements in the pocket and still be able to throw – whether it's off balance or regaining balance quickly. That was a big emphasis this year and obviously ball security is something I'm taking very seriously."
*Tight end James O'Shaughnessy was removed from the physically unable to perform list and practiced with the team in Wednesday morning's non-padded practice. "It's huge," Minshew said. "I was so happy. I saw James today and came up and gave him a big ol' hug. I'm so excited for him coming back." O'Shaughnessy missed the final 11 games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, catching 14 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns before sustaining the injury in a Week 5 loss at Carolina. "We really developed some chemistry," Minshew said. "He caught some big balls for me. I'm just so happy for him personally to be back out here. I know the fight that he has had just trying to get ready for this. To have him out there is a lot of fun." Also around the Jaguars Wednesday: defensive end/outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson worked on the side because of a minor hamstring issue and four recently-signed players – defensive lineman Josh Mauro, cornerback Tramaine Brock, defensive tackle Carl Davis and defensive lineman Caraun Reid – remain in the COVID-19 testing protocol. Running back Ryquell Armstead, offensive lineman Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms and offensive lineman Ryan Pope remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list. …
*Minshew said his communication with third-year Pro Bowl wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. could improve with the pair having more time to work together as starters during 2020 Training Camp. "This time last year, we didn't get to work very much at all," Minshew said. "We had a few reps in the preseason and then we were kind of thrown in in the regular season (when Minshew became the starter in Week 2). This offseason, I've gotten a lot of good work with DJ. I think that's going to allow us to understand each other a lot better and be on the same page more this year. It absolutely helps. The more reps, the more communication, the better we'll be. When he can expect what's coming and I know what to expect coming from him, it allows us to be a lot better and play a lot faster." …