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Jaguars training camp ‘21: Defense playing with some ferocity

Gardner Minshew does a warmup exercise before training camp on Friday morning. (Jamal St. Cyr, News4Jax)

JACKSONVILE, Fla. – The return of Sacksonville? That might be going a little too far, but the defense is playing with the same swagger that it had during that stellar run. After a few lifeless years, it’s clear that won’t be the case for the Jaguars defense this go around.

Joe Cullen said that sort of passionate play is a must in the NFL. All of the defensive free agents that the Jaguars have added bring that sort of passion to the field every day during practice.

After being held in check by coach Urban Meyer early on during camp, the defense has really turned it on this week. During Friday’s practice, there was one period where the Jaguars defense kept the offense from completing a single pass attempt. That is an incredible turnaround for a defense that just a year ago was one of the worst in the league.

Every level of the defense is starting to take clear shape. DaVon Hamilton will be a big player in the Jaguars run defense this year. Hamilton seems to have secured a spot in the middle of the line at nose tackle.

Cullen mentioned that the staff likes the power Hamilton brings to the field. In nickel situations, Hamilton leaves the field with Malcom Brown and Roy Robertson-Harris playing the roles as the only two true defensive linemen. Josh Allen and Dawuane Smoot play the edges. As for last year’s first-round pick K’Lavon Chassion, he still has work to do.

Cullen said they have been coaching him hard and hope to see him improve. It looks like Chaisson will start the year as a rotational pass rusher.

The defense has been able to give the Jaguars’ offense some issues. Overall on Friday, Trevor Lawrence had a solid day. Lawrence has a real knack for being able to put the ball in the exact spot it needs to be. During team drills he dropped a pass between three defenders for Chris Manhertz.

Manhertz wasn’t able to make the catch, but passes like that seem routine for Lawrence.

The only somewhat bad moment for Lawrence came on the final play of practice. Lawrence, in an end-of-game situation drill, needed a touchdown to win. He attempted to force the ball into the end zone and was intercepted by Jarrod Wilson.

Again, not a real red flag moment. The defense knew the situation and played deep coverage. Lawrence has had some ‘ehh’ moments in camp this week. But in my opinion, all of them came on miscommunications. Those are the sorts of mistakes that I want to see during camp because then they can be fixed before the season starts.

Notebook

• Missed practice: Tim Tebow (non-covid illness), CJ Henderson (post-Covid acclimation period), Marvin Jones (personal issue), and DJ Chark (minor injury).

James Robinson looks quick as ever. During a two-hand touch drill, he was able to turn around Joe Schobert and go by untouched.

Gardner Minshew worked with the starting group today. Had a solid day of work on the practice field. During the aforementioned drill, Minshew was unable to lead the offense to a touchdown. His drive ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone.

Laquon Treadwell looks like a playmaker. Minshew said that Treadwell has been his “go-to guy.” Treadwell seems to make plays every day and is constantly open. Outside of a few overthrown balls, I have not seen him drop a single pass.

• After getting off to a bit of a quiet start to camp, Collin Johnson had a good day of practice. He caught quite a few passes in the middle of the field.

Jamal Agnew finally looks healthy. Agnew’s speed shows up on offense as well. He was able to make a few nice plays including one down-the-field catch with Tre Hendon in coverage.

Travis Etienne is working to fine-tune his route running from the receiver spot. Early on in practice, Etienne was working with a coach running a hitch and go. I can say with some confidence that play will score a touchdown at some point this year.

Walker Little took his first reps of camp at right tackle. If Little can earn the swing tackle role, that will put pressure on Will Richardson’s roster spot.

• Nice to see James O’Shaughnessy back on the field with the team. O’Shaughnessy is working back from an ankle injury. He is still working off to the side with trainers, but worked in during 7 on 7 late in practice.


About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.