JACKSONVILLE – Branden Albert dominated all other Jaguars news Monday.
The Jaguars went through their fourth practice of 2017 Training Camp Monday, working for two-and-a-half hours in 84-degree temperatures on the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field. It was the first of what is expected to be five consecutive days in full pads.
Head Coach Doug Marrone spoke to the media afterward and addressed several topics, including Dante Fowler Jr. and Blake Bortles.
But while those are big '17 training camp topics, no topic on Monday compared to that of Albert. The 10-year veteran left tackle retired early Monday morning, surprising many around the Jaguars including Marrone.
"He came in this morning, and told me he was talking about retirement, and that's what transpired," Marrone said. "I'm not going to speak for him. I'm just going to say what was said to me: 'I'm going to retire.'
"Then, my mind goes on to the next thing: 'OK, I've got to get ready for practice.' I haven't put a lot of thought into it. My thought goes into practice, the rotation at the position, things of that nature.''
Marrone said he had no idea before the conversation that Albert was considering retirement. Albert had been expected to compete for the starting left-tackle position with rookie Cam Robinson, who also said he was surprised by the announcement.
Robinson said he, too, learned of Albert's decision Monday before practice.
Notes and observations from Day 4 of Jaguars 2017 Training Camp practice:
Images from the fourth day of #JAXCamp17.
*Marrone said he saw nothing unusual from Albert in recent days, saying Albert looked early in camp "like a veteran player who was getting himself ready to go." Albert, a 10-year veteran acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in March, missed the voluntary portion of the team's offseason program before attending a mandatory three-day minicamp. He worked with the first-team offensive line Thursday and Saturday and worked with the second team Friday when Robinson practiced with the starters. "He looked no different than anyone else," Marrone said. …
*Marrone said he hadn't yet determined what he thought of Albert's place on the team. Marrone said that's because he tries to "keep my mind open" on all players entering season, and judge them on present performance rather than what they have done in the past. "There's a reason why you practice, and a reason why you compete and a reason why you have preseason games," Marrone said. "You have to perform well, and you can't rely on what you've done before. Places I've been before, we've made that mistake. … The stuff you've done before, doesn't really matter. Let's talk about what we're doing now. So to answer that question, I wasn't at that point yet [with Albert].''
*Marrone said he liked what he saw from quarterback Blake Bortles Monday. Bortles did not throw an interception, and looked sharp and efficient through most of Monday's work after throwing five interceptions during the team's first full-padded practice of '17 camp on Saturday. "I thought he bounced back well today, which is something you obviously want to do." Marrone said Bortles had done "some good things" on Day 1 and 2 last Thursday and Friday, and that the team began working on third-down situations Saturday. "I think it's what we talked about before – just making good decisions," Marrone said. "There are some things around him that have to be improved: some mistakes, not selling a play enough to get the backers to come in. Again, it wasn't just one person – but it is the one person with the quarterback position that needs to make sure the ball doesn't go to the other team. We worked on it, looked at it and there are some things we like that we know we can get better at. There are some things where it's, 'Hey, we don't really feel comfortable with it now; throw it out.'''
*Marrone on defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who has had a strong start to training camp: "He's been doing a nice job all camp, he really has. We're happy with the way he's going, and it's just a matter of just being consistent, every day. He's got to keep doing the things he's doing every day. He'll get to where he wants to go. He can't have any setbacks or any distractions. We know that publicly." …