JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars met Tuesday on the practice field for their fourth OTA of the offseason.
Despite weather forcing the team to move inside, the Jaguars ensured everyone got the proper snaps and reps to see what the players had to offer. With the significant number of offseason additions, that’s increasingly more important for first-year coach Doug Pederson and his staff.
“We’ve been at this now almost four weeks. As a staff, we’re doing our due diligence to try to make sure all the guys get the proper snaps,” Pederson said. “We want to focus on Trevor [Lawrence] and get him as many reps as he can, but I do feel like our other two [C.J. Beathard and Jake Luton] are getting a substantial amount of the reps.”
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Having a strong veteran quarterback is excellent for rookie quarterbacks, but Lawrence never had that figure to mentor him as he took the helm of quarterback. Lutton, however, has been a great competitor and someone who is learning and growing their game beside Lawrence.
“He gives you great value and competition at the position,” Pederson said. “He’s great to have in the locker room and looking forward to training camp to see how he does.”
Luton was drafted by the Jaguars in the sixth round in 2020 and went 0-3 as a starter (two TD passes, six interceptions) during the team’s forgettable 1-15 season. He was waived last August by the Jaguars and picked up by the Seahawks quickly after that. Luton spent a couple games as a backup in Seattle but was mostly on the practice squad.
After spending time with the Seahawks and briefly on the Dolphins practice squad, the Jaguars signed Luton in February to a reserve/future contract for the season.
Along with increasing their quarterback room, the Jaguars also have a powerful component among their tight ends.
“It’s a strong part of our team, a great veteran group with leadership,” Pederson said. “I’m encouraged by that group, and training camp will be great to see the progress with their physicality and blocking and how they perform.”
Evan Engram is a vital piece to the tight-end group. The Powder Springs, Georgia, native spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants before signing with the Jaguars in March.
He had 408 receiving yards to go along with three touchdowns in 15 games.
Pederson said he enjoys the OTAs as it’s an ideal time to get an extended look to evaluate players. Newcomer Christian Kirk has impressed with his quickness in learning the offense.
Kirk signed with the Jaguars in March after being with the Arizona Cardinals for his first four years. Kirk caught a career-high 77 passes for 982 yards and five touchdowns in 2021.
“He [Kirk] and Trevor are getting better each day,” Pederson said. “They’re connecting and learning to be on the same page, and it’s gelled in practice. Kirk’s one of the guys that’s been here, learning and picking up the offense quickly.”
On the defensive side of the football, Pederson said there’s enough veteran leadership on the roster, and the young guys have embraced what the team is trying to do.
“It’s going to be exciting. Once we put on the pads at camp and start banging into each other,” Pederson said. “The draft picks, and the undrafted guys fit in nicely. The veteran leadership is very encouraging to me, along with the defensive staff.”
Specifically talking about their cornerbacks, Pederson said the group is eager to create turnovers and make more of an impact.
The Jaguars ranked last in the NFL in turnovers created (seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries) last season.
“This group has embraced the scheme, and this position group has a lot of potential,” Pederson said. “Tyson [Campbell] is going to be an excellent corner in this league. Shaquill Griffin is also a great leader and veteran guy that can lead that group as well.”