Jaguars OTAs: General thoughts from Day 1
By David Levin
The Jacksonville Jaguars began the final phase of their offseason program on Tuesday morning with the start of OTAs. Here are some thoughts from Day 1.
A new location, but the same kind of connection. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles walked onto the practice field adjacent to TIAA Bank Field and did what he was supposed to do. As the prized free agent for the team this off-season threw pass after pass, connecting with Chris Conley and other receivers, you got the feeling that things were different for this offense.
Sure, it was the first day of OTAs and things were a bit clunky and disorganized during a few points of the two hours of practice, But after watching Foles throw a spiral, the coaching staff may feel more at ease knowing they have a quarterback who will be able to put the football where it’s needed and the wide receivers will have more confidence in the man throwing them the football.
If the Jaguars do anything over the next nine OTA practices, they must continue to find continuity on offense, and find the right combination at linebacker and in the secondary. As head coach Doug Marrone told the media prior to the start of practice, there is still plenty of work to be done in all phases of this team.
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He also reiterated that a player cannot win a position on the roster on Day 1, but they can certainly lose their position by not doing what is asked of them are preparing to play on a daily basis.
"“Basically, what I spoke to the team about, I told them about three things. One is just because today is the first day of OTAs doesn’t mean we’re going to be out here and we’re ready to go 100 miles per hour right away,” Marrone said. “I think that’s one of the things that we look at. We want to build this thing up, and when we talk about our goals for OTAs we’re talking about conditioning, both physically and mentally. We want to get to that point where we’re doing a little bit more than we did in phase two, and we’re building this thing up so that we’re prepared at training camp to really go out there and practice and have highly productive days from that sense. The other thing is really the playbook and installation.”"
The most notable difference for the Jaguars this year is the change at quarterback, but the team is also without Telvin Smith, who decided that he would not play in 2019, just creating an opening at linebacker. The team is also looking for a starter at tight end who can catch more than 24 passes in a season.
The offensive line looks a little different this year with rookie second-round pick Jawaan Taylor Odds on favorite to win the right tackle spot vacated by Jermey Parnell.
The Foles to Conley connection stood out on Tuesday morning. What also stood out was wide receiver DJ Chark who looked comfortable in practice. The former second-round draft pick out of LSU is going to be counted on to make a leap this season from his rookie campaign. Injuries kept him out of five games last season, which prevented him from continuing to make progress that he showed after the team’s bye week last season.
Chark, who is also known for his play on special teams, is a tall and lanky past catcher who must be used more in the red zone.
The team will resume practice on Thursday. Wide receiver Dede Westbrook is expected to be back after missing the first day. His play last year was one of the bright spots on offense. I’m interested to see how he and Foles find chemistry could become one of the better pass-catch combinations in the NFL.