By: Hays Carlyon
The Jaguars made their season debut at TIAA Bank Field on Saturday, conducting a scrimmage that was a mixed bag of good and bad.
No player exemplified that more than starting quarterback Gardner Minshew. The second-year veteran got off an awful start before turning things around to somewhat salvage the day.
Minshew was intercepted by middle linebacker Joe Schobert in 7-on-7 work early in the scrimmage. Schobert would’ve returned the pick for a touchdown in a real game.
Minshew threw another Pick Six later in the day to cornerback D.J. Hayden in 11-on-11 drills. Both errant passes were on throws to the outside and the defenders simply stepped in front of the intended receiver with a clear path to the end zone.
Minshew, who has had a good camp overall, did get going late. He threw a touchdown to receiver DJ Chark and then came back to Chark on the next possession with a brilliant touch throw. Minshew capped that drive with a touchdown throw to receiver Terry Godwin.
The star of the day was clear. Fifth-round rookie receiver Collin Johnson dazzled with three tremendous catches over defenders. Johnson caught a 30-yard touchdown from Josh Dobbs. He started off the scrimmage by leaping up to secure a catch deep down the left sideline on a pass from rookie Jake Luton. The sixth-rounder came back to Johnson a strong throw in the middle of the field later in the drive.
Johnson also made impressive catch from Minshew.
Johnson was the only player to meet with reporters after the practice, an unscheduled press conference and a testament to his huge day.
The Jaguars should keep six receivers on the initial 53-man roster when final cuts are made on Sept. 5 and Johnson is definitely in that group. The real question is what to do with Terry Godwin? He had another strong practice, catching touchdowns from Minshew and Mike Glennon. Godwin is likely the seventh receiver, which would leave him out. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone described the receiver position as the most competitive after the scrimmage.
Rookie receiver Josh Hammond has had a nice last couple of days. The former Florida standout made a few catches on Saturday, including a nifty one going to the ground over the middle from Glennon. However, it’s unlikely Hammond will be a strong candidate for the 53 because of the logjam.
- The Jaguars held out several players: center Brandon Linder, receiver Laviska Shenault, receiver Dede Westbrook, defensive tackle Taven Bryan, running back Ryquell Armstead, rookie safety Daniel Thomas, linebacker Dakota Allen and linebacker Quincy Williams. Marrone said after practice both Linder and Shenault could’ve played if it was a real game.
- I liked what I saw from the edge rush, especially from first-round rookie K’Lavon Chaisson. He displayed his tremendous quickness and impressive hand-fighting technique. Veteran Cassius Marsh also showed some speed getting around the edge.
- The secondary played well, maybe their best outing of training camp. There weren’t many easy completions out there. If Johnson hadn’t really shined it would’ve been a tough day overall for the offense.
- The Jaguars did pipe in crowd noise for the scrimmage. The scrimmage was limited to media and about 100 fans affiliated with sponsors that support the team.
(You can email Hays at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)