JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from Week 1 of Jaguars 2019 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex …
1.The offense looks better. The No. 1 Jaguars question throughout the offseason was if unrestricted free agent quarterback Nick Foles would improve the offense enough to complement the defense and return the Jaguars to playoff contention. It's tricky to evaluate the extent of the improvement so early in camp, but make no mistake: Foles' accuracy and quick release appears to be helping the receivers, which can't help but improve the offense.
2.Dede Westbrook is the early standout of '19 camp … Westbrook, who led the Jaguars in receptions, yards receiving and touchdowns receiving last season, has looked improved enough as a route-runner that he has made a memorable play pretty much every practice. He has the look of a player taking a significant step forward.
3…. and the rest of the receiving corps is following suit. As significant as Westbrook's early improvement is that of second-year wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., who also appears to be improving by the day. Chark's two impressive catches in Friday's controlled scrimmage inside TIAA Bank Field included a 33-yard acrobatic reception that showed his ability to out-highpoint defenders on the deep pass. It was an encouraging step. Wide receivers Keelan Cole, Chris Conley and Terrelle Pryor should be mentioned here, too. All have flashed in camp.
4.Quincy Williams could be ready for the regular season. The bad news for the Jaguars is rookie linebacker Quincy Williams is expected to miss the preseason with a slight tear in his right meniscus. The good news is Head Coach Doug Marrone said Thursday Williams could return for the regular-season opener September 8 against Kansas City. The better news is the third-round selection from Murray State showed good instincts and awareness early in camp to go along with his aggressiveness and speed. He appears very capable of replacing the retired Telvin Smith at weak-side linebacker.
5.Josh Oliver could be out for a while. The rookie tight end on Thursday sustained what Marrone called a "significant" hamstring injury. How damaging the injury is will depend on the extent and how far it sets Oliver back, but it's a blow: Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo's scheme needs production from the tight end, and Oliver showed good instincts and ability to get open early in camp.
6.The Jaguars are trying to be smart with health. This has been a major camp storyline, with Marrone restructuring the schedule to allow more rest and recovery. The idea is to have the team healthier overall and fresher for a three-games-in-17-days stretch to start the regular season.
7.Left tackle Cam Robinson and wide receiver Marqise Lee may be getting close. We emphasize "may," but Marrone this week said he would have updates soon on the two players who have spent the first part of camp on the physically unable to perform list with knee injuries. Marrone declined to offer details, and the guess here is Robinson will return before Lee. Time will tell.
8.Tre Herndon continues to impress. Herndon made the team as an undrafted rookie last season, playing 11 games as a reserve. He worked with the first team this week with starter A.J. Bouye being held out because of hamstring soreness and appears likely to be the third corner behind Bouye and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. "He's having a great camp," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said.
9.Josh Allen looks the part … While judging any rookie before game action is premature, Allen – the No. 7 overall selection on the 2019 NFL Draft – has impressed early. The edge defender has looked good in early pass rush drills. It's difficult to imagine his combination of size, speed, leverage and athleticism not being productive quickly.
10…. and so does Jawaan Taylor. Like Allen, Taylor is a prototype for his position – a big-framed, solid right tackle. The second-round rookie is working mostly with the second team, but he increasingly is getting first-team repetitions. Marrone said this week Taylor will work solely at right tackle. Though Marrone didn't say it, it would be a surprise if Taylor's not starting by Week 1.
11.The defense is still good. We didn't actually learn this early in camp, but it should be noted: While the defense lost Smith to retirement, safety Tashaun Gipson to free agency and defensive tackle Malik Jackson to free agency, a look around the defense during camp reminds you that more than enough personnel remains for this defense to remain elite: Ramsey and Bouye, defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, Allen, linebacker Myles Jack, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, safety Ronnie Harrison. Few defenses in the NFL match the Jaguars' front-line defensive talent.
12.We'll know more soon. The Jaguars leave Sunday for Baltimore, where they will practice twice against the Ravens before the teams play in Thursday's preseason opener. Stay tuned.