JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – That’s a wrap for the Jaguars.
The team ended mandatory minicamp on Wednesday, wrapping up the bulk of the offseason program under first-year coach Doug Pederson.
And even mandatory minicamp felt a little light from a typical camp week. Pederson and his staff gave the bulk of the veterans the week off and only asked rookies, select veterans and players returning from or currently working through injuries to participate this week.
Pederson said last week that he’s happy with how the team has progressed through the offseason program after a turbulent and forgettable 2021 under the disgraced Urban Meyer regime. The next time players hit the field comes in training camp next month.
The Jaguars haven’t announced when they’ll open camp (Pederson is hoping to start it July 24) but it will be held at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Construction around TIAA Bank Field and the new Miller Electric Center sports performance facility are pushing camp off site this year. The new sports performance center, a $120-million, 125,000-square foot facility, will be the epicenter for all things Jaguars when it is completed. It is expected to be ready before the 2023 season.
If there was one thing to take away from minicamp it was Pederson and the staff’s desire to move far past any residue of the toxic Meyer era. Time and again, Pederson has mentioned healing or rebuilding or regaining trust. It’s a not-so-thinly veiled dig at how bad it was under Meyer, and just how different Pederson wants things to be. The fact that he’s said all the right things publicly and gave most holdovers a head start on summer break is a vote of confidence to the players, a deviation in how things were typically handled by Meyer.
“It’s all based on what they’ve done. I’ve done this kind of thing in the past, but at the same time, I wanted to see this group work and work together,” Pederson said. “It wasn’t final until just within the last week or so for me to make the decision. Again, these guys have worked extremely hard. They’ve earned it. They deserve it. We got done, as a staff, what we needed to get done and we’re getting ready for camp.”
From a minicamp perspective, the Jaguars made it through relatively healthy.
Backup quarterback C.J. Beathard suffered a groin injury during camp but Pederson said he should be OK by training camp. Edge Jordan Smith, a fourth-round pick in 2021, barely played as a rookie and won’t play at all this year after a knee injury in practice last week.
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There were positives in camp, notably from players who suffered serious injuries last year. Returner Jamal Agnew, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and running backs Travis Etienne and James Robinson are all returning from season-ending injuries. All took part in camp in various capacities.
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The returns of both Etienne and Robinson are significant because those two players figure to be 1A and 1B or 1B and 1A on the depth chart. Robinson is still being brought along slowly from a torn Achilles. Etienne, a first-round pick last year, missed his rookie season because of a Lisfranc injury in the preseason.
Etienne is further along in his recovery than Robinson, but the Jaguars expect both on the field together this season. Etienne remains a far more explosive player out of the backfield than even a full-strength Robinson because of his versatility.
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When the Jaguars return for training camp next month, it will be a quick turnaround. The team opens the NFL’s preseason schedule on Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio against the Raiders in the Hall of Fame Game. The team will also be working off site a couple miles away from TIAA Bank Field at Episcopal.