Day 4 Jaguars training camp notes
The Jacksonville Jaguars are enjoying a much needed off day today after wrapping up Week 1 of training camp. The team took the field for the first time on Wednesday, and Touchdown Jaguars! was there for the action on Day 1 and Day 4. Here are a few takeaways we gathered during what will be one of the Jags' last non-padded practices:
The first two picks of camp occurred on Friday's practice session. The first one was from rookie safety Antonio Johnson, who intercepted veteran quarterback C.J. Beathard with a nice high-point grab. He was in one-on-one coverage with a receiver on a deep route that was near the left hashmark area. The rookie fifth-round pick, who many felt was a steal in April's draft, will be one to watch as the Jags are in search of a player to man the nickel role. Right now, the Jags may prefer a veteran player at the position, but if Johnson keeps making plays like he did on Saturday, it could be hard to deny the rookie.
The second pick of the day came from second-year inside linebacker Chad Muma, who picked off Trevor Lawrence in 7-on-7 drills. Lawrence was attempting a pass in the middle of the field to receiver Calvin Ridley, but Muma was able to get underneath the route after a good read on Lawrence. Like Johnson, Muma is a player the Jags were able to draft later than projected. His rookie season was a bit of a learning experience, but his performance on Saturday should at least excite fans to see what kind of progress he's made.
Continuing on the subject of Ridley, his speed is as advertised. In a drill where the quarterbacks and receivers were working on deep pass connections, Ridley was able to catch a nice pass from Lawrence. Though the pass initially looked as though it wouldn't be catchable, Ridley was able to get underneath it, and cheers from the fans followed. According to reports and coach Doug Pederson, Ridley has been a camp standout. On Saturday, fans got to witness why. Ridley exits Week 1 of camp as the Jags' most impressive player so far.
Speaking of receivers, second-year player Kevin Austin was one of the standouts during Saturday's sessions. He caught what looked to be a deep post from Lawrence for a touchdown. Austin was a player fans were intrigued by last season because of his potential to be an undrafted gem coming out of Notre Dame. He was waived by the team during final cuts and signed to the Jags' practice squad. With a year now under his belt, Saturday's touchdown catch could be a sign that he's ready to take a step towards making the final roster.
The Miller Electric Performance Center, which is the name of the Jags' new practice facility, really has helped the fan experience. The facility itself is beautiful, and we at Touchdown Jaguars have long stated the importance of a facility like this even dating back to Shad Khan's fledgling days as a new NFL team owner. With the construction of the new facility complete, fans now have new concession stands, restrooms, and a pro shop to go to during camp. However, the most important addition to the Jags' practice facility is the shaded grandstand fans have to watch the action from. The grandstand also has several cooling fans under it, which offers a significantly more comfortable experience for those in attendance.
Coach Pederson came out to speak with the fans on Saturday. He stressed to fans that the players are aware of the work that needs to be done to improve as the Jags made the postseason, but lost in the second round to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Jaguars hosted various youth football teams during Saturday's practice and also gave away 215 helmets to them in the process. The Jags' young visitors also got to test out their equipment inside the Jags' flex field.
As for another roster observation, it appears the Jags' tight end room is pretty deep at the moment. Second-year player Gerrit Prince has been one of the surprises of camp so far and he had a touchdown catch on Saturday. This comes after he impressed during the previous three sessions, as well. Second-round rookie Brenton Strange also caught a pass in traffic Saturday, adding onto his performance on Friday when he caught a touchdown pass.