By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The excitement is here. After five months of waiting and being teased by mini-camps, the NFL draft and free agency, training camp is finally here.
As others have mentioned to me, they cannot wait to sit and watch players run around a field on the first day even though not much will happen.
But when you think of it, just seeing the players on the feel means a great deal more than some people realize. Our favorite sport is back. Our team is back. The excitement is back. Everything is real. And it means something.
As a fan of this team since the start, I have never been more excited about a season as I am this year. And the odd thing about it is I know this is not a playoff contender, I know this is a team with real issues at quarterback and on the back line of defense (they are starting two rookie). I know teams like Houston, Denver, San Francisco and Seattle are all licking their chops at the prospects of playing this team right now.
It’s like being a crazed fan of a rock star where you stand in line all day just to see them come out of their trailer for a minute and you are excited to just “be there.”
Well, maybe not that crazy.
Training camp gives me the fan a chance to be hopeful. Training camp gives me the writer a chance to analyze what is right and what is wrong about this team. Here are five things I definitely want to see at training camp starting this week.
1. Roy Miller. So much was made about him being signed and being the type of player head coach Gus Bradley wanted in his defensive scheme. Miller never saw the field in the mini camps or OTAs. It is imperative for Miller to have a solid camp so the Jags can feel better about moving Tyson Alualu to defensive end.
2. Depth on passes by Blaine Gabbert. Last season, he looked the part in camp, showed more authority and players tended to respond more to him. Maybe it had something to do with Maurice Jones-Drew not being in camp, but Gabbert was “the man.” Then once the season started, he reverted back to the shy, scared rookie. Gabbert must come in and throw the ball all over the field with zip and accuracy.
3. Speed, speed and more speed. Not just any speed. Lots of it. Let’s see what this team does with Cecil Shorts, Denard Robinson, Ace Sanders and Tobias Palmer running all over the field.
If the Jaguars are going to improve a stagnant offense, they are going to have to spread the field more.
4. Fans at the practices. Especially on the first few days. This is a team and an owner (Shad Khan) that has made the fan experience for us as unique as possible. This is an owner who cares about the city and those who buy tickets, and as someone who engaged him for comments last time on the practice field he was as genuine as possible. He told me that in order for there to be more success, there needs to be more positive support for this team. And once again, he is right.
5. The excitement of Gus Bradley. There is something about him that we all love. He is the antithesis of Mike Mularkey and more real than Jack Del Rio. And when he tells you this team is going to fight every play and work hard, you believe every word he says. This is a franchise that needs a proactive coach who eats, sleeps and breathes the game and he genuinely loves being the head coach of this team.
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