Jaguars training camp notebook: Intensity picks up as preseason opener inches closer

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little (72) runs through warm up exercises during an NFL football practice, Sunday, July 31, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It is officially game week.

The Jaguars will play their first preseason game of the year on Thursday night against the Las Vegas Raiders. The preseason will be a learning experience for everyone, including the coaching staff. Press Taylor said that he expects to try coaching from the field and the box during the preseason to decide what will work best for the regular season.

Monday, the Jaguars held their second fully padded practice and the intensity level was high. Things got chippy a few times during practice with offensive players confronting defensive guys for making tackles.

It was an up-and-down day for both sides of the ball. The defense dominated early during the team period. Josh Allen was able to breeze through the right side of the offensive line twice for sacks. Allen has had a strong camp and looks to be in line for a big year.

Allen and the rest of the starters likely won’t play Thursday night. That game will be important for many of the younger players. One player who has repeatedly found his way into the notebook has been Benjie Franklin. The undrafted free agent has also caught the attention of teammate Shaquille Griffin. 

“That guy is really twitchy and when he breaks, he is going to break on that ball and he is going to get there and close fast,” Griffin said. “I love the way Benjie has been attacking this field. The way he has been practicing. He is definitely a sponge.”


  • Play of the day — Evan Engram with the touchdown grab. During red zone work, Trevor Lawrence looked for Engram in the back of the end zone. Engram had three defenders around him but was able to make a move to make an incredible catch for the score. Engram has had some drops during camp but the coaches have said better now than in Week 1. Hopefully, Engram will make more plays like this TD grab in Week 1 when it counts.
  • Snoop Conner with a huge day. Connor broke multiple big runs. Phil Rauscher told Conner towards the end of practice they wanted to see him break 100 yards on the day.
  • Christian Kirk made an amazing grab in the end zone. Lawrence was under some serious pressure from Josh Allen, a play that would have likely resulted in a sack during a game. Instead, Lawrence threw up a prayer that Kirk was able to bring down in the end zone.
  • James Robinson participated in more individual drills today than any other day of camp. A positive sign for the running back as he works his way back to the field.
  • Bad day at the office for Luke Fortner. He may have gotten his welcome to the NFL moment more than once. During team drills, Dawuane Smoot was able to put the rookie on skates. Then during 1 on 1′s DaVon Hamilton, drove the rookie back with ease. Fortner has taken all of the snaps with the starting offensive line but has not been officially named a starter. If he keeps getting dominated, we could see Tyler Shatley slide into the center spot.
  • Speaking of Smoot, he has had a great start to camp. He blew by Brandon Scherff during 1 on 1′s. According to my notes, this is the only rep that Scherff has lost so far.
  • Bounce back day for Walker Little. On Sunday, Little lost multiple reps during 1 on 1′s. Monday, Little was able to turn it around and show some vast improvement.
  • I mentioned DaVon Hamilton’s power earlier in the notebook. While powerful Hamilton had issues with luging. He lunged off the ball and fell to the ground multiple times causing the drill to need to be reset. After each rest, Hamilton had good reps but the lunging will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
  • Keep an eye on Israel Antwine. Antwine is an undrafted rookie during 1 on 1s he has some serious power to drive linemen back. The defensive line group is deep so he may be a player headed to the practice squad but Antwine’s strength could help him push his way into a roster spot.
  • Cam Robinson looks good. Robinson has easily dealt with everyone who has lined up against him for 1 on 1′s. Robinson lined up against Travon Walker and made the rookie work to get any sort of movement.
  • K’Lavon Chaisson jumps during his pass rush moves a lot. That is not good. These little hops cause him to lose power. Against good competition, those will make him lose the rep. Sometimes it works but often it won’t.
  • The Jaguars are looking for creative ways to get the ball into their playmaker’s hands. Monday, they handed the ball to receivers and threw more than a few screens. Creativity is where the good news stops because the defense blew up almost every one of the plays.

About the Author:

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