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What should Jaguars fans expect during mandatory minicamp?

Demetrius Harvey

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Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) and running back Leonard Fournette (27) walk to the field during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are officially starting their three-day mandatory minicamp session to cap off the offseason. After minicamp, the Jaguars players and coaches will take a much-needed vacation until training camp. Of course, players will continue to stay in shape, and train on their own as well as study, they will no longer be mandated to attend mandatory — or voluntary — offseason training sessions.

The Jaguars will need to fine-tune their team as much as possible heading into the extending break in order to head into training camp with a full head of steam. So what should the Jaguars, and fans be looking for as they wrap up of the offseason?

1. No injuries

This is the most important aspect of any offseason workouts. No injuries. The Jaguars have already ruled out several players who are dealing with past injuries or even most recent injuries including DE Josh Allen, RB Ryquell Armstead, OT Cam Robinson, and WR Marqise Lee along with a few others.

As for the rookies — Allen and Armstead — their injuries are not considered anything major and will simply be closely monitored as they progress into training camp. The Jaguars are smart to be overly cautious when it comes to any sort of injuries due to the plague which was cast on the team just last season.

If the Jaguars exit rookie minicamp without any injuries, it should be considered a win across the board. Far too often are players injured participating in offseason training.

2. Jalen Ramsey is back, Yannick Ngakoue is not

One of the most talked about players on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster since the 2016 NFL draft has officially returned to the team after training in Nashville during the Jaguars voluntary period. Jalen Ramsey will be participating in the Jaguars three-day mandatory minicamp session. There was some speculation amongst fans, and the media, that Jalen Ramsey would skip everything this offseason as he awaits a contract extension, however that simply was never going to be the case.

Ramsey had his fifth-year option picked up earlier this offseason, which will lock the pro-bowl corner with the team until at least through the 2020 season. This means, even if Ramsey were to want a new contract it would not behoove him to skip — at least not yet. Look for Ramsey to bring a different “swagger” to the Jaguars defense during minicamp, and show the Jaguars coaches why choosing to workout away from the team is the better move for them and Ramsey himself.

The same cannot be said for Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue announced yesterday he will not be attending the Jaguars mandatory minicamp as he and the Jaguars work out a long-term contract extension. Ngakoue’s incentive to skipping any of the Jaguars activities are validated by point number one in this article. Unlike Ramsey, Ngakoue is on the last year of his deal, and there is no reason for him to attend until he has to or signs an extension.

The Jaguars will almost assuredly be making a grave mistake if they do not extend Ngakoue.

3. Players continuing to separate themselves

During the voluntary portion of the Jaguars offseason, there have been many glowing reviews of various Jaguars players. This includes third-round picks TE Josh Oliver, and LB Quincy Williams. Oliver — by all accounts — has looked fantastic catching the football as well as improving on his blocking mechanics. This will need to continue as we get closer to training camp. The Jaguars offense will run through the tight-end position very often, and with the FB no longer in the discussion, it will be even more pivotal.

Jaguars rookie LB Quincy Williams has also begun to make a name for himself as he has been getting some first-team reps with the Jaguars defense in place of Telvin Smith. This will be an ongoing competition with Ramik Wilson looking to be the man in direct competition with Williams.

Along with the rookies, there are several veterans who need to continue to establish their roles on the team. Including DT Taven Bryan. Bryan was brought in last season during the 2018 NFL Draft as a potential replacement for DE Calais Campbell in the future. As it turns out he will be looking to replace DT Malik Jackson instead in his more natural role at 3T.

Although Bryan will still be playing DE a good deal during the 2019 season, Bryan has remained focused on mastering the DT position. Daniel Popper of The Athletic recently sat down with Taven Bryan and discussed the transition and why big things are expected from the second-year player. By all accounts, Bryan has been off to a great start.

There will be many battles to watch as we get closer to training camp, and establishing who is a pretender or a contender will take some time. This week will be the start of that.

Demetrius Harvey is the lead editor for the Locked on Jaguars website covering breaking news, breakdowns, and more. You can follow him at @Demetrius82 on twitter.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee officially taken off PUP list

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 25, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville wide receiver Marqise Lee (11) is carted off the field after an apparent injury during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially taken wide receiver Marqise Lee off of the physically unable to perform (PUP) list today. Head coach Doug Marrone announced the development at his pre-practice press conference today. Marrone says Lee will be practicing today.

Lee has not practiced or played since his preseason knee injury almost a year ago today. With this progression, the Jaguars will go into the season — at least for now — with their top receivers active and relatively healthy. If Lee is able to make any sort of contribution during the start of the season it will be a major success for the Jaguars.

Currently, the Jaguars have relied on newcomer Chris Conley along with veterans Dede Westbrook, and D.J. Chark along with other newcomers to make up for Lee’s absence. It is not yet known how this will affect the Jaguars roster come the cut-down day.

The Jaguars have not announced a corresponding move as of right now. The roster stands at 91 until they do so.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars sign RB Elijah Hood, release QB Tanner Lee

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 17, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Elijah Hood (30) runs away from Miami Dolphins defensive end Claudy Mathieu (60) towards the goal line during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today the Jacksonville Jaguars announced the signing of running back Elijah Hood.  As a corresponding move, the Jaguars have released quarterback Tanner Lee.

Hood, 5’11” 230 pounds, was originally drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders. After bouncing around on the Raiders practice squad for the year, he was eventually waived following the 2017 season.

Hood most recently played the Carolina Panthers, however, his time with the Panthers was cut short in 2018 due to a torn ACL. He will get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jaguars and potentially live up to his collegiate career where he accumulated 2,580 yards and 29 touchdowns while at UNC.

With the injury to running back Alfred Blue (ankle) this past Thursday along with other running backs on the roster, the Jaguars needed to add depth at the position. Hood will get every opportunity to make the team, but his chances are rather slim.

Lee, a 2018 6th-round pick by the Jaguars was finally released as a corresponding move to signing Hood. Releasing Lee will not come to much of a shock for Jaguars fans. Lee has struggled throughout the offseason and in the preseason during both of his seasons with the Jaguars. This leaves backup quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Alex McGough to battle it out in the Jaguars last two preseason games — although it looks like Minshew has the upper hand as of right now.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones has inside track on backup job

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 25, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones (96) works on the pads during training camp at Dream Finders Home Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to sign seven-year veteran Datone Jones as a means to create more competition and depth behind defensive end Calais Campbell. At the time, this was seen as more of a roster-filler type move, essentially to make sure the Jaguars have enough bodies during training camp. However, the situation has completely changed due to the way Jones has played during the offseason and into training camp.

Jones, 6’4″ 285 pounds, was originally drafted 26th overall in the 2013 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Coming out of UCLA he was expected to make a major impact along the defensive line after accumulating a respectable 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks during his senior season. Since being drafted, Jones has bounced around the NFL playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and, most recently, the Dallas Cowboys.

Jones was not able to make as much of an impact on the Packers’ 3-4 defensive front after bouncing around from the defensive line to — surprisingly — linebacker.

For a short time, Jones signed with the Minnesota Vikings shortly after his contract with the Packers ended and expressed the concern of a position switch during an interview with the Vikings update stating, “They didn’t tell me. I found out on NFL Network that they had moved me to outside linebacker, I kind of knew that I would have to make the adjustment or I wasn’t going to be there anymore. I wanted to come into a place where I felt most natural, where I could really showcase my ability, what I could really do.”

Having to make such a drastic change in his career path after being mildly successful — 73 tackles and nine sacks with the Packers — at another position impacted Jones. While Jones did accumulate the most pressures for the Packers during the 2016 season while playing outside linebacker, it still was not the appropriate position for him to play given his natural ability.

Now with the Jaguars, Jones is back along the defensive line and is thriving. With the backup strong-side defensive end position for the Jaguars being completely wide open, Jones has taken the opportunity afforded to him and could be apart of the first group of players coming onto the field for the normal starters.

The Jaguars have tried for a couple of years now to find a good backup behind Campbell. They drafted defensive tackle/end Taven Bryan in the first round just a year ago, however, he has switched to more of a fulltime role on the interior of the defense. Mostly a disappointment his first two seasons, defensive end Dawuane Smoot has also taken a backseat with the arrival of Jones, giving Jones the inside track to win the primary backup job.

Jones has taken that opportunity and has thrived. Able to come off the ball with speed and power, he has the ability to adequately stop the run along with getting to the quarterback. During the game on Thursday, Jones completely took over the Eagles offensive line. One play in particular from Thursday’s game stands out.

Jones lines up on the defensive edge and is unblocked, getting to the quarterback and knocking him (Cody Kessler) out of the game. These are the type of plays which illustrate why he has earned a spot on the Jaguars 53-man roster.

A rotation from normal starters Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Campbell to Josh Allen, Bryan, Eli Ankou, and Jones illustrates just how deep the Jaguars are along the defensive line.

This past week head coach Jaguars Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the defensive end spot behind Campbell.

“I feel good about where we are with our D-Line, I do. In other words, I feel like we have good starters, and I feel like we have good depth. I think we have a lot of players there, guys that will probably be, if you look at the roster, I think that can potentially be the toughest. Who is nine, who is 10 if we keep 10, wherever that goes,” Marrone stated.

“Yan obviously looks great out there, but then all of a sudden [Dontavius] Russell, [Michael] Hughes, Datone Jones, I mean you have guys now, big V [Kalani Vakameilalo] is a big body in there. We have guys now that are in there that are pretty good that it’s going to be a tough call.”

A “tough call” that might have gotten tougher — or easier depending on how you look at it — with the performance Jones put on Thursday and throughout the offseason. Against the Eagles, Jones was credited with three tackles and a quarterback hit, however, it was his persistent pressure and pocket collapsing plays that set him apart from everyone else.

Shortly after the game, reporters spoke to Jones about his strong play against the Eagles. “I just wanted to go out there and execute and compete. I felt like I started off really slow the first preseason game and I felt like I owed it to my teammates to go out there today, execute and put my abilities on film,” Jones said.

“[I wanted to] let guys like Calais [Campbell], Marcell [Dareus] and Yannick [Ngakoue] know that I’m here to compete and I want to be in the lineup with those guys. I want to be here in Sacksonville, sacking quarterbacks. Preseason is all about coming out here and displaying and competing and just having fun with your brothers. Executing, you know.”

It is clear playing behind the Jaguars starting defensive line, and seeing the culture within that group has lit a fire under Jones for the better. If he can provide the same production he has done in the past, the Jaguars may have one of the deepest defensive line groups in the entire league.

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