JACKSONVILLE – Urban Meyer's message was clear.
It was also simple and forceful, emphasizing responsibility and accountability as the Jaguars opened 2021 Training Camp.
"Individual, unit, team … own it," Meyer said Wednesday.
Meyer, entering his first season as the Jaguars' head coach and his first NFL training camp after 17 seasons as one of the most successful head coaches in college football history, spoke to the media on Wednesday after the team's first '21 training camp practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.
He discussed the team's COVID-19 vaccination situation, saying that Jaguars players as of Wednesday were a little more than 80 percent vaccinated. He also discussed his camp-opening message to the team, which he said he delivered Tuesday night.
It focused on "ten strong," with the aforementioned emphasis on accountability.
"There's a big saying around here: Ten strong," Meyer said. "There are 10 units on the team. Own your unit. If I'm on the linebacker unit … don't worry about the corner unit. Make sure you take care of the linebacker unit.
"Don't make excuses. It seems like this whole world's full of excuses right now. No excuses."
Meyer also emphasized the need for players to maximize the team's sports-performance program, which has been a major emphasis since Meyer took over as head coach in January.
"Take care of your body," Meyer said he told players. "Training camp's hard. We have a great sports performance model. Use it. If you don't use it, it's on you. Be a pro."
Meyer said he was pleased with the player conditioning on Day 1.
"They're good," Meyer said. "We did a conditioning test. Everybody passed it. It wasn't overly difficult. My message back in June was if I'm worried about a conditioning test we really don't need to practice much because we're going to get our ass kicked in. They were good."
Meyer on Wednesday discussed his approach with players on the COVID-19 vaccination, saying he will emphasize education rather than pressure. "I didn't get vaccinated because someone told me to," Meyer said. "I got vaccinated because I did a deep dive and educated myself. A doctor I've known for a long time said, 'Get vaccinated.' I take the same approach with the players: Educate them. Ultimately, it's their choice. But how do you make choices in life? You educate and give them the truth."
Meyer, as he did during the offseason program, praised the Jaguars' free-agency class. "We hit it out of the park," Meyer said, referring to the attitude and approach of the class. Meyer shortly after the class signed in March talked about the difficulty of signing free agents in the NFL because coaches/general managers can't talk to the players extensively – or meet with them personally – before signing. The Jaguars therefore emphasized players with whom coaches were familiar, and also spent extensive time talking to former coaches of the free agents eventually signed. Meyer cited free-agent signees such as Griffin, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., running back Carlos Hyde, defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II, tight end Chris Manhertz and others. "Plus, plus, plus, plus," he said. "A lot of that was a deep dive by our coaching staff, [General Manager] Trent [Baalke] and his staff, and me personally calling people. I like those guys."
Meyer detailed the Jaguars being fined $200,000 for practice violations during the 2021 offseason, saying the league had cited eight plays. "The eight players were defenders going after a ball," said Meyer, who also was fined $100,000. "I want to say three times it was incidental contact." As a result, Meyer said the Jaguars are not playing any press coverage during the first four days of training camp – which are all non-padded, non-contact practices. "That's where most of the stuff was," he said. Meyer said the coaching staff showed the players the eight plays. "I'll be honest: Four of them you're like … you know," Meyer said. "But a rule's a rule, so we're going to follow the rules." The Jaguars' first padded, contact practice of '21 training camp will be Tuesday.
Meyer on Jaguars cornerback Shaquill Griffin: "I love Shaq Griffin. There are takers and there are givers. Takers are people you have to constantly motivate. Great players you have to prepare. Average players you have to motivate all the time. Shaq loves the game. He loves to practice."