JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the week that was around the Jaguars with a look ahead to the rest of the 2018 offseason …
Jaguars 2018 rookie minicamp was closed to media and public, offering little chance for analysis of the seven draft selections, 12 undrafted free agents or 42 tryout players participating.
With that in mind, we’ll stick to what was said around the Jaguars last week rather than what was done for this week’s Week That Was. Coverage will take on a more on-field emphasis once organized team activities begin May 22.
One early observation on rookie minicamp: First-round defensive tackle Taven Bryan and second-round wide receiver DJ Chark – the lone members of the Jaguars’ 2018 NFL Draft class to speak to the media during Friday’s podium sessions – seemed capable and at ease in the situation.
Bryan said the chance to focus solely on football makes the mental side of the game different than college. At least early on.
“It’s actually kind of easier, because you get more time to study it,” Bryan said. “Since it’s just your job now, and it’s all you have to do, it’s pretty easy.”
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone smiled when told of the quote.
“We’ll see how he is after training camp,” Marrone said.
Bryan also was told that Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson had said on Instagram that as a rookie, Bryan might be responsible for bringing donuts to the defensive linemen. Bryan said he hadn’t heard that.
“But if he wants donuts…” Bryan said with a laugh.
Chark talked extensively of his relationship with second-year running back Leonard Fournette, saying he appreciated his former collegiate roommate at Louisiana State speaking strongly for him with the Jaguars. He also discussed his early impressions of Jaguars wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, whose 17 NFL seasons included six with the Jaguars from 1996-2001.
“It was great,” Chark said. “Coach has a swagger about him. He’s intense, but he definitely knows what he’s talking about. Just being out there, learning from him … with his experience coaching and playing you just want to be a sponge.”
Defensive end Calais Campbell recently discussed his move to the Jaguars last offseason, saying that in retrospect it was the right move at the right time. One major reason was a chance to play in a 4-3 defensive scheme for the first time in 10 NFL seasons, a move that resulted in a career-high and franchise-record 14.5 sacks. “The change was really beneficial for me,” said Campbell, who played his first nine seasons with Arizona. “I’ve always wanted the opportunity to play in a 4-3, true defensive end position. When that opportunity came, it was like, ‘Wow. I wish I could have done it earlier in my career,’ but it came at a really good time because my knowledge of the game was so much higher than it ever has been. It allowed me to make plays. I do think it was a good timing for me to come into this scheme. This role is perfect for this skill set. I wish I could have played it my whole career.” Campbell last season was a first-team Associated Press All-Pro first team selection, and was the runner-up for the AP Defensive Player of the Year.
“Last year everything was new for everybody. We had a coaching staff establishing a new standard. You saw guys kind of getting accustomed to that – myself included. Now, guys understand and know what it takes. We embrace the grind. We understand that OTAs are going to be hard and training camp is going to be hard. But you see guys preparing even harder and making sure we’re ready. You definitely see the confidence is a lot stronger. Last year at this time when we talked about what we could be it was natural to say, ‘Well, maybe …’ Now there’s not a guy in that locker room who doesn’t believe we can be the Super Bowl champs.”
“Now it’s, ‘Hey, what I see is what I believe.’ I’m done with what I’m hearing. It’s what I see actually on the field – that’s what I’m going to believe. I’m not going to believe what I saw on tape in college. I’m not going to believe what I heard from anyone else. That stuff’s all out the window now. That’s gotten you here. Now, it’s what I see on the field.”
--Marrone on how player evaluation changes once players arrive for the offseason program
“This group of guys, this year, has to come together and become a team. A lot of talk has been going on about last year. We had a really good year, but that’s done. There’s no more last year. This is a whole new team, a new group of guys. I want these guys to have the understanding of building that family atmosphere again and taking it one day at a time and making sure you’re doing something every day to not let the man next to you down because you want him to be a champion as much as you want to be a champion. It’s a new team every year.”