The Jacksonville Jaguars are just a few days away from playing in a live game, and Tuesday’s practice reflected this important fact.
A day after the most action-packed practice of camp, Tuesday felt more like an end-of-week practice for a team that is set to play a game. But Day 8 of camp was still an important day as the offense and defense faced off, two young players stepped into important roles and more.
So, what all did we see at Tuesday’s practice at Episcopal School of Jacksonville Knight Campus? We break it down below.
Snoop Conner, Jake Luton step into big shoes ahead of HOF Game
Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson announced on Tuesday that both Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne wouldn’t play in Thursday’s Hall of Fame game against the Las Vegas Raiders. With James Robinson also clearly not playing, and with CJ Beathard ruled out, that means we are going to see a lot of rookie running back Snoop Conner and third-year quarterback Jake Luton.
Conner had a terrific practice on Monday, breaking off several long runs, picking up blitzes in pass-protection and making a few nice runs. This translated to even more first-team reps for Conner on Tuesday, who got the first crack at running back with Robinson not practicing and with Etienne missing practice with an illness.
Considering the No. 3 running back job has very much so been a battle between Conner and fourth-year running back Ryquell Armstead, Conner’s recent success says a lot for his chances to have a role in the Jaguars’ offense. He should be expected to get quite a bit of playing time on Thursday.
“It’s one day. But it was a good day. Now it’s about how you can you stack days, back to back to back, and that’s what being a professional is all about,” Pederson said.
“I like where he’s at. I like his progression right now. He’s done well with blitz protection and seeing things and catching the ball out of the backfield. Again, these games coming up now are going to be very meaningful to him. competition battle that we’re going to really keep our eye on.”
Then there is Luton, who has mostly operated the Jaguars’ second-team offense in camp as Beathard has recovered from his spring groin injury. Luton has flashed at times, finding good connections with Jeff Cotton Jr., Tim Jones and Lujuan Winningham, while helping lead several scores in the red-zone on Monday.
Luton has also had some down moments, including interceptions to Benji Franklin and Rudy Ford earlier in camp, but he is a player Doug Pederson has spoken highly of in the past. If there is a non-Lawrence quarterback for Pederson and his staff to try to mold this year, it is Luton. Thursday’s game will be huge for him from a reps point of view.
Kickers have a perfect day
It has been a long training camp for the Jaguars’ kickers, but could they finally be turning the corner? Tuesday’s practice was their best of the entire camp so far, and the Jaguars are likely hoping with all they have that this is a sign of things to come during the Hall of Fame game and beyond.
After Ryan Santoso has had moments of wild misses both in warmups and in team drills over the first seven practices, the veteran kicker had a solid 4-of-4 effort on Sunday and then was perfect today both in warmups and on his four kicks in team drills. Santoso entered camp as the favorite to win the kicking job and he should be expected to be the first kicker to make an attempt on Thursday.
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As for Elliott Fry, the recently-signed kicker also was perfect in warmups and on his four kicks today. It is the first day at camp the Jaguars kickers were 100% accurate for the day, making Tuesday the most important day yet in the Jaguars’ quest for a kicker. Fry looked especially accurate from deep on Tuesday, a sign of potential from the former AAF and Bears kicker.
“Honestly, it’s still young, it’s still early in camp. In these games, we’re going to try to create some situations where there’s a little more pressure involved that put these two guys under and I think both guys will respond,” Doug Pederson said on Tuesday. goes. Most of the battles do, as we go, but it’ll be fun to watch them in these games and try to put them in some tough situations.”
Darious Williams takes part in team drills
One of the Jaguars’ prized free agent additions was former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams. Williams was added in March with the Jaguars hoping for him to quickly slot in at nickel cornerback and help revamp a secondary that struggled to make impact plays. But to this point, Williams hasn’t been 100% in practice as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
Williams took a big step being back completely on Tuesday, though. Still donning a red non-contact jersey, Williams was able to take team practice reps throughout Tuesday’s. Working with the second-team defense on multiple occasions, Williams lined up in the slot and on the outside and even got his hands on one Trevor Lawrence screen pass meant for Christian Kirk, leading to an incompletion.
Williams is going to play a big role on defense this year and last week was his first week really getting any team reps at all. Then today, he had his first full practice of camp. It was a lighter practice on Tuesday, but it will still a big milestone for the veteran cornerback.
“Really no timetable, but he’s itching to go, and he’s out there moving around, doing certain drills, and he looks good,” defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said on Saturday. We’re just going to keep progressing him and see how it happens. He really just talked to Deshea (Townsend) on the sideline then kind of got in my ear, and I ran it by Coach Pederson, and he got in for one play and did a great job on that one, so let’s get him out of there.”
Two targets Trevor Lawrence continues to look comfortable throwing to
There are two returning skill players who unsurprisingly seem to already have a good connection with quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but maybe not the skill players everyone thinks. Lawrence had a crisp day on Tuesday to end a hot streak of impressive days, and two of his best throws on the day came to tight end Chris Manhertz and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, two targets he has been very comfortable with in camp.
Manhertz had a big gain during the first team period of the day, with Lawrence going through his reads and finding Manhertz open between the safeties and linebackers. Lawrence delivered a pass with good velocity and Manhertz caught it and immediately got upfield for a big gain, continuing a strong camp where he has just seemed in-sync with his quarterback.
Treadwell, meanwhile, has been on the receiving end of some of Lawrence’s best throws and this continued on Tuesday. With Lawrence rolling out of the pocket on a designed play, Treadwell ran across the field and threatened the third-level of the defense horizontally. Lawrence made a nice layered throw to Treadwell, who caught it and got a few yards after the catch for a nice gain.
Neither Treadwell or Manhertz gets the attention of some of the Jaguars’ other skill players, but both are talented guys who have formed strong chemistry with Lawrence dating back to last year. Expect each to continue to make the most of their targets in the offense.
Play of the day
The Jaguars saw fourth-year safety Andrew Wingard make a big play on defense to end the day on a high note for Mike Caldwell’s unit. Wingard has always been one of the locker room’s and staff’s favorite players, whether as an undrafted rookie in 2019 or as a starter for Urban Meyer in 2021. Plays like Tuesday’s show why.
With veteran backup quarterback CJ Beathard in at quarterback, Wingard managed to fire downhill and explode onto the ball during team drills late in practice Tuesday. Wingard took Beathard and the offense by complete surprise and ended up returning the pass for a pick-six, the second of Jaguars’ camp so far. Add in Wingard playing some key roles on special teams on Tuesday and it is obvious he has a role to play on the 2022 squad.
- CJ Beathard got some drives in during team drills at the end of practice. He still looked like a quarterback battling his way back from injury, but it was a positive to see him taking some live reps.
- Foley Fatukasi didn’t participate in team drills, but he wasn’t working with trainers off to the side either. He looks like he could be close to being back to practice.
- Laviska Shenault practiced fully after leaving some of the previous day’s practice with a lower-leg injury he sustained during a special teams period. Shenault didn’t look like he was anything but 100% on Tuesday, cutting well in drills and again taking part in special teams drills.
- The Jaguars keep showing they are willing to get their best athletes and pass-rushers on the field. There was one play in team drills where Dawuane Smoot, Arden Key and K’Lavon Chaisson all shared the field. Obviously you want to see Josh Allen or Travon Walker in there during game situations, but this is an example of the Jaguars being flexible enough to put edge players inside on nickel downs, something they have been stubborn about in recent years.
- Undrafted rookie outside linebacker De’Shaan Dixon stood out on several run and pass plays. He is a player to watch on Thursday.
- The Jaguars obviously weren’t tackling, but veteran linebacker Foyesade Oluokun was making would-be tackles all over the place on Tuesday. He has had a good camp so far and Tuesday was another example.
- Luke Farrell is going to get a lot of chances to find snaps in 2022. He might not see as many targets, but it is clear he has the traits the Jaguars are looking for in a blocking role.
- The Jaguars practiced a quarterback sneak in training camp, this time. Really!
- Doug Pederson said there will be some starters who play on Thursday. Whether that is just for a series or not, it looks like the Jaguars will try to get a look at a good number of healthy players.
- Daniel Thomas continues to get run with the second-team defense as safety across from Andrew Wingard. It is unclear which would be Safety No. 3 in the event a starter like Rayshawn Jenkins or Andre Cisco was injured, but it is clear they are the two main backups.
- Doug Pederson said he hopes to see Jamal Agnew take reps in team periods next week as the Jaguars prepare to face the Cleveland Browns in the preseason, noting that Agnew is “close” to being 100%.