Kelvin Beachum may be ready for training camp 

The initial report for LT Kelvin Beacham’s return from last season’s ACL tear with the Pittsburgh Steelers was somewhat good news. Now, that return may happen ever sooner.  Beachum was originally expected to return early in training camp; however, he might be on the field from day 1.

This would put Beachum on a list of big-name, injured Jaguars that are expected to be fully healed for the team’s training camp.  Beachum, the team’s favorite to win the starting LT job, defensive lineman Dante Fowler, linebacker Myles Jack, and corner back Jalen Ramsey should all be ready to go. 

Fowler and Jack both participated in minicamp, although on a limited basis.  The four of these guys have another 37 days to go until training camp officially starts. Assuming Beachum beats first-round bust Luke Joeckel, that will give the Jaguars an improved offensive line from last year. The line allowed Blake Bortles to be sacked 50 times, way too much for an NFL team to have any sort of success. 

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Telvin Smith will serve as pace car driver for Coke Zero 400

Linebacker Telvin Smith has been asked to be the honorary pace car driver for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, according to NASCAR. The Florida State product, who was selected in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft, is ecstatic to have this opportunity:

“Im looking forward to this great experience. I’ve never been to a NASCAR even before, so the opportunity to attend my first racerace, as well as drive the pace car, will make for an unforgettable evening.”

The Jaguars and NASCAR continue to build their great relationship together. In 2014, driver Jamie McMurray participated in a Jaguars practice.  

“This year, we’re excited to return the favor and host Telvin Smith at the ‘World Center of Racing’ and have him pace the field prior to the green flag for Saturday night’s midsummer classic,” said Chip Wile, president of Daytona International Speedway.  The race will take place on July 2nd.

Since joining the Jaguars defense in 2014, Smith has been shining.  During his rookie season, he finished with 99 tackles, which was third-most by any rookie in the league.  Last season,  he started 14 games and recorded 128 tackles, while scoring his first career touchdown via interception (featured picture). 

The NFL’s leading 6-tackle game streak-holder, Smith, is a huge part of the way Gus Bradley wants the defense to be played.  His speed and athleticism have made an instant impact on this team, and I expect even bigger things from him this year. 

Tashaun Gipson is ready to lead the defense

This offseason, the Jaguars’ have added a ton of talent to the defensive side of the ball.  General manager Dave Caldwell and co. had one of the best drafts in the league, according to multiple experts.  The team also added DL Malik Jackson, CB Prince Amukamura, and FS Tashaun Gipson through free agency.

Through the first 3 seasons of Gus Bradley’s tenure as head coach, the Jaguars have put together a 12-36 record; in other words, they’ve won 1 out of every 4 games that they play in.  Granted, Bradley and Caldwell showed up and had to turn over a disastrous roster that was put together by the preceding GM, Gene Smith.

When Bradley came over from the Seattle Seahawks, he brought with him a unique defensive scheme.  The problem was that he didn’t have the personnel to plug into the scheme.  The team didn’t possess a safety that can fly around in single-high coverage.  There weren’t any physical corners to slow down and bully opposing receivers.  There sure as heck weren’t any play-making pass rushers to put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  All of these problems may have been solved with the offseason, though.

Malik Jackson seems to be the big fish that the Jaguars’ front office reeled in.  He did, after all, sign a 6-year, $90-million deal with $42-million guaranteed.  But the addition I’m most excited about is our new free safety. That’s right, Tashaun Gipson could be the piece that brings this entire defense together.

There was a specific play during OTA’s that drew widespread praise of the team’s new defensive back.  The offense was working on a red zone play, and Bortles fired a pass to the corner of the end zone.  Gipson flew across the field and was able to intercept Bortles’ pass, something that defensive coordinator Todd Wash says he hasn’t seen from the team in recent years.

Here’s Gipson on the scheme:

They let me go back there in the middle of the field and play football.  That’s one of the things that I pride myself on. I feel like I’m the best back there. They’ve been allowing me to do that but also play within the scheme.

One of the many benefits of having Gipson helping over the top is that Jonathan Cyprien, the 4th-year safety, will be able to play a lot closer to the line of scrimmage.  Cyprien has been viewed as somewhat of a liability in pass coverage his first 3 seasons.  Gipson spoke about playing with some of the league’s best strong safeties, T.J. Ward and Donte Whitner.  He mentioned that once Cyprien gets more comfortable with the scheme, he should blossom into a player of their caliber.  It’s a little bit of a stretch to imagine Cyprien becoming one of the elite safeties in the league, but it goes to show the sense of optimism that the team has this year.

 

Allen Hurns is allergic

The Jaguars’ 40 million door man has an allergy that’s pretty inconvenient to a football player. Grass just so happens to be the dirty culprit. It hasn’t seemed to really affect his on-field production, though.  In 2 seasons since being picked up by the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent, Hurns has amassed 115 catches, 1,708 yards, and 16 touchdowns. Hurns cashed in on that production this year, signing a 4-year, $40M deal

Hurns explained to ESPN’s Mike DiRicco

Sometimes I break out, sometimes I don’t. At times it gets pretty aggravating, but for the most part it’s been holding up good. 

Fortunately for Hurns, he only has to take an occasional Benadryl to overcome his allergies. He described it as more of an annoyance than a problem. If you ever see him wearing long socks or sleeves on a hot day, now you know why he does so. 

Blake Bortles is ready to learn anything and everything 

The Jaguars’ star QB in-the-making continues to improve. Bortles has shown enormous strides in his 3rd offseason with the team, the 2nd under Greg Olsen’s offense. What are Bortles’ thoughts on this offseason, though? 

It’s good. It’s continuing to go.  1

The coaching staff is elated with Bortles’ progress thus far, but they need to keep pushing him in order to maximize his potential. After eight days of OTA’s, it’s clear that Bortles is comprehending the offensive scheme more thoroughly.

In order to improve on what he built last season, Bortles is going to need to cut down the turnovers. While he had an awesome, Pro Bowl-caliber season in terms of yardage (4,428) and touchdowns (35), he threw 18 interceptions. I believe when he fully understands why certain plays are being called in certain situations, he’ll be able to trim that number down. 

In 2016, I fully expect the offense to take another leap forward. While Bortles gets more comfortable this season, I’d like to see the no-huddle offense get some more usage. I also anticipate more adjustments at the line of scrimmage for the Jaguars. The future is very bright, and Bortles will need to serve as our Prodical Sun. 

  1. John Oeshner, Jaguars.com

Former FB Greg Jones promoted to Scouting Associate

Greg Jones on the sidelines.

Greg Jones, the Jaguars fullback from 2004-2013, has been promoted from a coaching intern to scouting associate.  Jones played in 115 games over his 9-year career with the Jaguars, amassing 910 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns.  Jones was drafted in the 2nd round out of Florida State.

@Tdickman89 – Tad Dickman

Credit to Paul Robinson for the photo.

Dante Fowler Jr., the LEO we need

One of the many exciting things to look forward to this season is the addition of some pass rush. Dante Fowler was drafted last year to solve the problems that Jacksonville has had since the days of Reggie Hayward and John Henderson.

Defensive coordinator Todd Wash has claimed that Fowler is more explosive than anyone in the organization foresaw him being.  And while they limit his reps early in the offseason, you kind of get the feeling that he is going to be a star in Gus Bradley’s system.  The Jaguars have lacked an intimidating pass rusher for years, but this kid could be the answer.

Of course, the massive free agent addition of Malik Jackson will help generate some interior pass rush. The two together could help transform this squad into an entirely different defensive unit.  Cornerback Prince Amukamura stated that the front four and playmakers in the secondary are like nothing he’s ever seen in his 5-year career.

There’s plenty of reason to believe this unit can transform from one of the worst defenses in 2015 to a respectable group this season. Fowler is going to be one of the main cogs that either helps grow this defense or sets it back.  Let’s just keep our fingers crossed for the former and not the latter.