Upon the completion of the first rookie minicamp practice, Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone appeared to be pleased with what he saw from the 60-plus players who were in attendance.
After meeting with the media on Friday, it was clear Marrone, who was candid in his comments about the day’s events, wasn’t ready to rave about anyone in particular.
What he did say was he was impressed by how these players came to TIAA Bank Field in good shape and ready to take on the task of trying to make this football team.
“It’s way too early to say who stood out, who did this … I don’t like to get too excited,” Marrone said early Friday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field, where 2018 Jaguars rookie minicamp is being held through Sunday.
“But I will say that I didn’t go out there and say, ‘Ugh, who brought this guy in? Let’s get him out of here.’ I didn’t say that – and there have been times in the past where I’ve been like, ‘Hey, we’ve got to be careful: this guy’s going to get somebody hurt or he’s going to get hurt himself.’
This group, which Doug Marrone deemed, “pretty good,” will continue to grind out through Sunday before the team breaks camp. There is still plenty of work to do by the coaching staff to evaluate talent and find diamonds in the rough – players who can unseat veterans – and for drafted rookies to show why they were one of the fortunate seven to hear their name called the final week in April.
While four of the seven players the team drafted are now under contract, the top three picks – Taven Bryan, DJ Chark and Ronnie Harrison still participated with the rookies and eligible players in attendance. Doug Marrone also reiterated these players still have a lot of work to do between Friday and Sunday and beyond.
“You get a chance to meet them, and there’s a lot of eyeballing,” Marrone said. “You’re just trying to match names to faces and trying to get used to them.”
There isn’t time to get excited just yet as Marrone and his staff have plenty of time to evaluate talent and determine who stands out, who makes a difference. It’s a long process which begins this weekend and ends after the last preseason game of the season.
Even then, there will be changes made and time to re-evaluate the 53-man roster the Jaguars set in place.
“The one thing I did see from the group as a whole … obviously, it’s very hot out there, but I didn’t see anyone who was out of shape or not prepared,” Marrone said. “I thought they were trying to listen to direction and do exactly what we want them to do.”
The key he explained is to get these young players ready to be integrated with the veterans when they come to camp so all 90 players on the roster are set to practice as a unit. If there is a drop off in preparation, that could lead to poor results during OTAs and training camp. The one thing Doug Marrone has been, even when he was named interim head coach, replacing Gus Bradley at the end of 2016, is a stickler for preparation.
“We’re watching those guys and getting them introduced to how we stretch, how we lift, how we coach our drills,” Marrone said. “This way when our [veteran] players come back in, those players can come right in and we’re not wasting time. I cannot stand wasting time. That’s probably my biggest pet peeve.”