Here's What We Learned about the Jaguars during 2015 rookie minicamp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields…
1.Gus Bradley is all class.Not that we didn't sort of know this before, but when the Jaguars' head coach talks about what players mean to him? About caring about these guys? It's real. For a second consecutive year, Bradley called the tryout players, first-year veterans, rookies and free agents together for a group photo after rookie minicamp ended Saturday. Bradley will send a copy of the photo to every player. For some, this weekend will be their first/only/last time in the NFL. For Bradley to insist that be acknowledged and remembered is above and beyond.
2.Dante Fowler Jr. won't play for the Jaguars this season.This was the most unfortunate news the Jaguars could have received this weekend. On Day One of his first rookie minicamp, Fowler – the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft – sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Bradley confirmed the injury Saturday and said Fowler is out for the season.
*3.When healthy, Fowler is special. *What was understandably lost on Friday because of the injury is that Fowler looked really, really good in practice. He looked tired between drills, but that's to be expected from a rookie in rookie minicamp. When working in individual drills, you could see Fowler's burst, explosion and even his physicality. That's what he'll need to get back after the long rehabilitation/recovery process.
4.Fowler will be paid.We didn't learn this over the weekend, but it's worth repeating to avoid any confusion. While Fowler had not signed his rookie contract before being injured Friday, the injury will not hurt him financially in terms of his contract. Fowler, like all NFL drafted rookies, signed an agreement before minicamp ensuring that the Jaguars will negotiate in good faith in the event of an injury. Fowler's contract will be in the slotted range for the No. 3 overall selection.
5.Fowler is a mature guy …Fowler's demeanor and words while speaking to the media on Saturday were remarkable. He was poised and sincere, and showed no surliness or sadness in the wake of the injury. He undoubtedly had fear, anger – something – inside but he handled the situation better than a rookie should be expected to handle it.
6.… and a classy guy.The money quote from Fowler's media availability Saturday: 'I'm the guy that's really thankful about things. I cherish a lot of things. My biggest thing was just that I loved that the fans were out there and to show them the type of guy that I am, showing those guys the player that they are going to have soon. Just to get out there and play football – I love this game so much. I don't care about the injury because I know what this game comes with. I'm not out there thinking about this. I know every play, I'm risking myself. That's just the game. I put myself in this situation. I signed my name on that dotted line. I knew what I was getting myself into. It's just one of those unfortunate things right now. In the future, a year from now, we'll be all smiling again and talking about me sacking people."
7.What we didn't learn …We're cheating a bit, because this is "What We Learned" not "What We Didn't Learn," but we'll use this section to reiterate what Fowler's injury Friday wasn't. It wasn't a sign the Jaguars are cursed. It wasn't a sign they are "snake bit." It wasn't a sign they should have taken another player. It wasn't about him going to the University of Florida. He got hurt. It's football. It happens.
8.T.J. Yeldon is intriguing.We say "intriguing" because you don't want to do cartwheels over a running back in rookie minicamp. There's no tackling or contact, and you can't really judge a back until those things are happening. But you saw the vision, the quick feet, the cutting ability, the fluidity … it was easy to see why he was the No. 36 selection in the draft.
Images from the first day of the Jaguars rookie minicamp.
9.Ace Sanders is having a good offseason.The third-year veteran wide receiver wasn't at rookie minicamp, but Bradley mentioned him twice on Saturday, saying the punt returner/slot receiver has stood out this far in the offseason program. "This was the best I've seen Ace," Bradley said. "Granted, it's a Phase II workout, but just running and things like that. The consistency of every rep is really showing up and it was from the first day. He's really stacked up some good days. We've really took notice of him as a staff."
Images from the second day of the Jaguars rookie minicamp.
10.More will be known soon.This was a truncated version of What We Learned. That's by necessity because there's not too, too much that gets learned with no pads in shorts in a rookie minicamp. The Jaguars liked a lot of the rookies, with Yeldon, wide receivers Rashad Greene and Neal Sterling and safety James Sample all standing out. The Jaguars likely will sign multiple tryout players from the weekend on Monday, and those players will be on the 90-man roster the team will take into the rest of the offseason and organized team activities. That's when rookies first start working with veterans, and a lot more will be learned then.