Jaguars Scrimmage: What I’l Be Watching For Tonight

Joeckel blocks Branch
Luke Joeckel (76) has been very steady in his first NFL training camp. Will he continue to star during Saturday night’s scrimmage? (photo by Bobby King)

by Cole Pepper
August 3, 2013

The Jaguars hold their annual scrimmage inside EverBank Field tonight. The festivities will begin at 6:45pm.  Head coach Gus Bradley says he will treat it like a practice, more than a “live” scrimmage. Most of the work will be scripted for specific situations (red zone, 2 minute drill, etc.) and the 1s (the players currently working with the first team) will work against 1s, 2s against 2s, etc. Here’s what I’ll be looking for tonight:

  1. Quarterback play – Won’t everybody be watching for this? So far in camp, when Blaine Gabbert has been good, he’s been better than Chad Henne, but when Gabbert has been bad, he’s been really bad.
  2. Wide Receivers-Despite looking human the last two days, Cecil Shorts is a given. With Justin Blackmon out, there is a significant opportunity for somebody to step up and solidify a roster spot. So far, rookie Ace Sanders and first year receiver Mike Brown have made the biggest splash. Veterans Jordan Shipley and Mohamed Massaquoi could use tonight’s scrimmage to close the gap in the battle for playing time. Some receiver has an opportunity to play quite a bit in the first four games of the regular season while Blackmon is sitting out under league suspension.
  3. Denard Robinson-I’m not the first to say this, and I won’t be the last. Expectations of Robinson are too high. Every time he touches the ball at camp, people draw a breath and even a 5 yard run around the end elicits “ooh and ahhs.” He hasn’t even been the best rookie in camp (Ace Sanders and Luke Joeckel have been). Yes, he has potential to make big plays, but so far in camp, they have been few and far between. I want to see how he does “under the lights” and see how many plays he runs as a running back, as a wide out and from the wildcat formation.
  4. Pass Rush-Other than the occasional Jason Babin charge around the outside, the Jaguars pass rush has been non-existent in camp. Is that a sign that the offensive line has dramatically improved? Or is it, as head coach Gus Bradley opined, that the Jaguars just don’t feel like going hard after the quarterbacks wearing the red shirts? The quarterback will not be live during the scrimmage, so we may see the same issues, but I would like to see some kind of one-on-one win by a defensive end.
  5. Cornerbacks-Alan Ball has clearly been the most productive in camp. Even matched up with Cecil Shorts, Ball has made some plays. You can see the physical talent of rookie Dwayne Gratz, but he has experienced some growing pains in camp. Other’s I’ll be watching include veteran Marcus Trufant, and anyone who is matched up with Shorts. That’s the best test for a cornerback.
  6. Luke Joeckel-So far, it’s tough to find anything to criticize about the #2 overall pick. He worked at left tackle Friday when Eugene Monroe was given a veterans day off. Joeckel figures to be back to right tackle tonight and I’m looking forward to seeing if he can do more than just hold his own.
  7. Special Teams-Unfortunately, there will be no live special teams work, only “thud” work, meaning that return men won’t be tackled, but they will be hit. Sanders has worked a lot as the punt returner, and I expect him to ultimately win the job, but the kick off return spot is wide open with Denard Robinson the early leader. Also, the Jaguars now have three long snappers in camp after signing Luke Ingram. They can’t keep Ingram, Carson Tinker and incumbent Jeremy Cain for long, can they?