JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the last week of 2019 Jaguars Training Camp and the Jaguars’ 24-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in a Preseason Week 2 game at TIAA Bank Field Thursday
1.Minshew may be OK. No bigger Jaguars story emerged Thursday than rookie Gardner Minshew II solidifying his role as the backup quarterback. Even when struggling in Preseason Week 1 at Baltimore, he was the best option to backup starter Nick Foles. But his poise and resiliency showed against Philadelphia, and his 19-of-29 passing for 202 yards could have been better if not for a few dropped passes.
2.Marrone is continuing to take his preseason approach seriously. Head Coach Doug Marrone held 30 players out at Baltimore and held 27 out against Philadelphia. Players who have yet to play a preseason game for the Jaguars include: quarterback Nick Foles, running back Leonard Fournette, wide receivers Marqise Lee, Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook, most of the offensive line, defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, cornerbacks Yannick Ngakoue, linebacker Myles Jack, safety Ronnie Harrison and defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones. Those absences are why the 0-2 preseason record means little. That’s most of the team’s core players, which shows how seriously Marrone’s taking keeping the Jaguars healthy for the regular-season opener September 8 against Kansas City.
3.Robinson is back … The Jaguars got good news when third-year left tackle Cam Robinson came off the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday. Robinson, who missed the last 14 games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, worked in walkthrough and individual work last week. The next step is contact work with weight on the rehabilitated knee.
4. … but the offensive line is still uncertain … Four of five projected starting offensive linemen have yet to play in preseason: Robinson, rookie right tackle Jawaan Taylor, left guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder. This represents the team’s greatest current unknown.
5. … and the whole line is concerning Marrone. The Jaguars rushed for 2.8 yards a carry Thursday, and the area was a point of emphasis for Marrone afterward. “I think the thing I was most disappointed … I’d want more push inside,” Marrone said afterward. He added that while the starters’ return will help, it’s important to determine the depth and swing players. “We want to get the line solidified – probably the big priority right now for me,” Marrone said.
6.The competition at right guard is real … Among camp’s major stories is second-year offensive lineman Will Richardson Jr. emerging as a possibility to start at right guard. After starting at right tackle in Baltimore, he started at guard Thursday and is pushing veteran A.J. Cann with second-year veteran Brandon Thomas also a possibility. Richardson following Thursday’s game credited new Jaguars offensive line coach George Warhop with helping him transition from tackle to guard. “He took me and moved me from tackle to guard in minicamp and I stood my ground and played really well,” Richardson said. “That’s when I really got some confidence. I thought, ‘Not only can I play tackle, I can play guard.’”
7. … and the competition at safety may be real, too. C.J. Reavis is making a strong push at the position. Second-year veteran Ronnie Harrison seems likely to start at one spot, but could Reavis push fourth-year veteran Jarrod Wilson? Reavis allowed a 38-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Ward early in the second quarter Thursday, but the team remains confident in Reavis’ potential. “C.J. was coming off a real good game last week,” Marrone said. “I think it shows how this sport can humble you. One week, you can really play lights out. The next week, all of a sudden you don’t make that play and C.J. is a guy who can make that play. I’m sure the next time he has that opportunity, he will. We believe in that.”
8.Giles-Harris is having a good camp. Joe Giles-Harris, a rookie linebacker from Duke who signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent after being projected as a late-round draft selection, started Thursday. He drew praise from Marrone last week and again after tying for the team lead with four tackles Thursday. “He’s an undrafted free agent that’s really been having a good camp who plays multiple positions; really smart kid,” Marrone said.
9.Datone Jones could factor into the defensive-line rotation. Jones, a first-round selection by Green Bay in the 2013 NFL Draft, has spent time with Minnesota, Detroit, San Francisco and Dallas in the past two seasons. His sack of Eagles quarterback Cody Kessler Thursday was his most memorable play of the preseason, but he has shown consistently in practice and could contribute at strong-side end behind Calais Campbell and at three-technique tackle.
10.Cornerback position is strong – and deep. Ramsey, Bouye and nickel D.J. Hayden form one of the NFL’s best corner combinations. Second-year veteran Tre Herndon has made plays consistently in training camp. Marrone also had high praise Thursday for first-year veteran Breon Borders, who had two pass breakups and who had multiple pass breakups more than once in training camp practices. “One of the things defensively that I liked were the corners,” Marrone said Thursday night.
11.The starters will debut Thursday. Marrone said the Jaguars will play their starters against the Miami Dolphins Thursday. The Jaguars will treat the game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. That’s the only game this preseason in which most Jaguars starters are expected to play.