Wednesday update: Focused on the fumbles

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

JACKSONVILLE – The fumbles shall not be ignored.

Gardner Minshew II was pointed about that Wednesday, with the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback saying he and the team are focused on him not repeating last Sunday’s three-fumble performance.

“It’s something we’re not just going to think is just going to go away,” Minshew said as the Jaguars (2-3) prepared to play the New Orleans Saints (4-1) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We’re going to actively fight it and try to get better at it.”

Minshew threw for a career-high 374 yards with two touchdowns in a loss to Carolina Sunday, but the Panthers recovered all three of his fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. Minshew said the team has focused on ball security in practice, having someone “ripping” at the ball and doing whatever possible to fix the issue.

One theory is Minshew’s ability to extend plays by maneuvering in the pocket makes fumbles a necessary part of his game by exposing him to hits. Minshew on Wednesday discounted the idea, citing a seven-yard touchdown pass he threw to running back Ryquell Armstead in a Week 4 victory over Denver after evading multiple rushers.

“I was scrambling, and I had good ball security,” Minshew said. “We’ve just got to get to the point where it’s not something I’m thinking about and it’s a habit I have.”

Also on Wednesday:

*Head Coach Doug Marrone discussed the team’s minus-four giveaway-takeaway ratio. The Jaguars have forced two turnovers this season, with the defense’s only takeaway coming when safety Ronnie Harrison intercepted Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco in Week 4. The Jaguars did not force a takeaway against Carolina. “We said, ‘Listen, let’s just be even and go out there and play and see how the game goes and give ourselves a 50-50 chance of winning,” Marrone said. Harrison said forcing more turnovers is about staying hungry. “The opportunities are there,” Harrison said. “Last week we had two forced fumbles and we didn’t have a chance to get on them. We just have to keep playing fast and getting to the ball. It will come.” Said cornerback D.J. Hayden: “They come in bunches. We haven’t gotten enough lately, but the season isn’t over with. There are a lot more plays to be made out there. We just have to take advantage of it.” …

*Minshew was asked if he was disappointed that he wouldn’t get to face perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees of the Saints Sunday. “No,” he said, laughing. “I’m glad he’s not playing. I’d like to meet him; that would be cool. He’s a great player, and [backup] Teddy Bridgewater has been playing great as well. Not much slack there. We have to come out and be ready.” Brees has been out since Week 2 with a wrist injury. …

*Marrone discussed the progress on and off the field shown by running back Leonard Fournette, whose 2018 season featured off-field issues including a suspension. “It’s great growth,” Marrone said of Fournette, who leads the AFC in rushing through five games. “You go through a day and say, ‘What can I do to be a better teammate and a better coach?’ You want to be better. You want to be better for everyone. It’s not just Leonard, but Leonard has done a very good job and I’m very happy in the direction that he’s going.” …

*Fournette, who rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie and 439 yards and five touchdowns in eight games last season, has rushed for 512 yards and a touchdown this season. He has rushed for 225 and 108 yards in his last two games, his first back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances since his 2017 rookie season. Fournette has this production despite multiple stretches in which the offensive line has struggled to create holes, including a Week 3 victory over Tennessee in which he had minus-three yards until a 69-yard run in the fourth quarter. “It’s the mentality, and I’m sure it’s an inner struggle of not getting frustrated early on,” Marrone said of Fournette. “A lot of times when guys get frustrated it doesn’t happen that way. If you can just keep working through it as the course of the game evolves and you’re talking to the line and the coaches and you know it’s going to break and you believe in that – I think those things can happen. There’s a little bit of that going on, and we want to be more consistent with it.” …

*Cornerback Jalen Ramsey practiced limited Wednesday after missing the last two games with a back injury. Ramsey hasn’t practiced since playing and starting Week 3 against Tennessee. “It’s nice to see Jalen’s face,” Hayden said. Added defensive tackle Abry Jones: “It’s always good to see Jalen. He’s a person we love to have in the locker room. I feel like if he decides to play, he’s going to be ready.” Also on Wednesday: Hayden (foot) worked limited, as did Harrison (ankle), defensive end Lerentee McCray (oblique) and tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring). Center Brandon Linder missed practice with a coach’s decision/veteran day off, and defensive end Calais Campbell was limited with a coach’s decision/veteran day off. …

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