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Inside Training Camp: Day 1

Posted Jul 27, 2012

Senior writer John Oehser takes a look inside Day 1 of the Jaguars 2012 Training Camp

SETTING THE TONE

Mike Mularkey has no doubt the next two weeks will be productive.

The Jaguars’ first-year head coach said he knows that because after six months on the job, he has a good idea about the players on the Jaguars’ roster.

Still, training camp is about setting a tone, and in that vein, the first meeting of training camp sets the tone for the next two weeks. The Jaguars held their first meeting of the ’12 season Thursday night, and Mularkey said the focus was on getting as much as possible from what he said by definition will be a trying period.

“Training camps are hard,” Mularkey said. “They’ve been hard forever and they’re always going to be hard. We’re going to just find out about who’s going to be accountable, dependable, consistent – who’s going to be able to handle it when things are going good and they’re faced with adverse conditions.

“I already know how it’s going to be, based on the guys that are in that locker room.”

Mularkey said he showed a film of highlights from last season, and championship moments from other sports, as part of his message, and he said a new beginning and championship approach are most definitely themes.

“(Jaguars Owner) Shad (Khan) has gone out of his way to try to build a team for success,” he said. “I told them there’s a lot that we’re going to do with winning. That’s us. Everything we’re trying to do has the intent of putting us in a position to win. I spoke to Shad about doing what he’s done since he’s owned the team. That’s important for these guys to realize that people are doing a lot of things to make sure we’re putting ourselves in position to be a winner.”

Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said among the messages that resonated was, “Good teams do the right things all the time.”

“As long as we can stay consistent and when we’re faced with adversity go over the speed bumps as a team, we’re going to be better at the end of the day,” Lewis said.

 

FASTER FINISH

While Mularkey is confident training camp will be productive, he wasn’t thrilled with Day 1.

Throughout much of the team’s full practice on Friday afternoon, there were more dropped passes and mistakes than Mularkey said was ideal, and with about 20 minutes remaining he called the team together and told them as much.

He said the final 20 minutes – an 11-on-11 period – was better.

“I didn’t think we were having a good practice,” Mularkey said. “I just felt like we’re better than that. A lot of it has to do with first-day jitters and not being able to train in this fashion, but I wanted to let them know we’re going to get better every day and had a chance to finish today better than we started. That’s why I didn’t let it finish the way it started.”

Safety Dawan Landry was among a number of players who suffered from cramps in the afternoon practice.

“It’s hard to train for this kind of practice when you’re gone for five weeks,” Mularkey said. “There’s nothing you can do for two hours and twenty minutes that will simulate this, even here. They were feeling it a little bit.”

 

WHAT MULARKEY SAYS

“We’re working with the people that are here every second and not worrying about those guys that are not. There has not been a distraction. There have been a lot of things that have been going on that should have distracted this team a lot. Having to move the locker room from here to there, incidents on the weekends that we had. These guys have handled everything with a full speed ahead, the guys that are here.”

 

WHAT LB RUSSELL ALLEN SAYS

“That is everyone’s goal – when you walk in the door you want to be a starter. I wouldn’t be sitting here today if I didn’t want to be the best and if I didn’t want to compete. That (linebacker Clint Session being out with concussion-related symptoms) is not how you ever want to get it (starting position).  You don’t want to wish that on anyone.”

 

WHAT WE SAW

The first day of training camp was pretty much what might be expected on Day 1 in the Northeast Florida heat. There were too many dropped passes, and a few too many fumbles. There also was a lot of cramping that should subside once players get used to the heat. Overall, quarterback Blaine Gabbert looked accurate in the morning practice and pretty solid in the afternoon practice. Wide receivers Mike Thomas, Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts each dropped catchable passes in the afternoon, while middle linebacker Paul Posluszny looked sharp, picking up a fumble and deflecting a pass. Defensive end Aaron Morgan also had a good pressure in the afternoon.

 

WHAT’S NEXT

The 88 Jaguars players in training camp will participate in two training camp practices Saturday at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields – a walkthrough at 9:45 a.m. and a full practice at 2:15 p.m. The morning session, which is not open to the public, will be in shorts and caps without contact, and the 2:15 practice is free and open to the public.

 

TODAY’S TAKE

Here’s hoping the situation with Clint Session isn’t what it seems. Session, who signed as a free agent from Indianapolis last offseason, is on the Physically Unable to Perform list with concussion symptoms. He sustained two concussions last season, the second of which occurred on November 20 and ended his season. Session participated early in the offseason program, but missed the latter portion of organized team activities and didn’t participate in the team’s mid-June minicamp. Session showed ability to be a real impact player when healthy last season, and his big-play ability makes the Jaguars better when available. While the defense likely won’t see a significant drop-off with Russell Allen starting in his place, the linebackers group clearly is thinner without Session, and hurts the Jaguars’ special teams by reducing Allen’s role there.

 

QUICK HITS

*Wide receiver Taylor Price returned to practice Friday after missing nearly all of the offseason program with a stress fracture in his left foot. Price, a second-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft by New England, was claimed off waivers by the Jaguars last season. Mularkey said Price is among several players, including cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Ashton Youboty, who are working at about 50 percent as camp begins. “It’s good to be out on the field,” Price said. “I just took everything as positively as I could. I stayed in top condition, watched film and just stayed up on everything as best I could.”

*Veteran fullback Naufahu Tahi left the team for personal reasons following the morning practice, Mularkey said. Mularkey said Tahi will not be back. The Jaguars also Friday signed tight end Gijon Robinson, who played for the Colts from 2008-2010.

*Mularkey on backup running back Rashad Jennings, who is working with the starters in running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s absence: “Rashad looks great. He’s in great condition and anxious to go.”

*A day after players saw the Jaguars’ locker room for the first time, it remained a topic of conversation as training camp opened. Mularkey was asked if he worried about the $3 million, state-of-the-art facility being too “plush” for a tough, physical game. He smiled and said, “No, I’m not worried about it. It’s the best locker room I’ve been in. It’s plush. There’s no question about that. . . . We needed an upgrade. We really did. We still need some more upgrades in the facility. It’s really because of time but again we’re not trying to make it too plush that these guys get too comfortable. I don’t want that happening.”

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