Training Camp Tour – Jacksonville Jaguars

Jags camp 1

BritViewNFL rounds out its training camp tour with a visit to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Our tour has taken in three Wembley-bound teams, thousands of miles in travel, some rushed airport food while racing for planes and one very tiring trek up the California coastline in the middle of the night. But it has been fascinating to get a feel for the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars, as well as getting a sneak peek at Levi’s Stadium – new home of the San Francisco 49ers.

Where is BritViewNFL.com?

At the Jaguars regular practice facility just outside of EverBank Field. And I was not the only Brit in attendance – ProFootballFocus.com founder Neil Hornsby was also proudly flying the British flag at Wednesday’s practice as he continued his own training camp tour with Peter King of Sports Illustrated. The Brits have been well represented on this trip with gameday magazine editor Colin Hubbuck accompanying me and Aden Durde coaching his tail off with the Dallas Cowboys.

5 observations from Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp

  • I am 42 years old, have not played competitive sports for about a decade and could probably do with being in slightly better shape. But if Gus Bradley tells me to run head first into Pro Bowl middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and put him on his backside, I’m doing it. Bradley is full of energy and a tremendous motivator – word of his coaching style is going to spread throughout the NFL and free agents will flock to Jacksonville. Mark my words.
  • Chad Henne is a class act. He knows full well that he is living on borrowed time as the starting quarterback of the Jaguars yet he remains positive and a team-first player. He has made a point of helping rookie first round draft choice Blake Bortles – the man who will eventually take his job. As safe and steady hands go until the rookie is ready, the Jags could do a lot worse than Henne.
  • The additions of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons should help the defense but the general concern among the local media out here seems to be focused on the offense. But I think that is a unit that will also take a step forward in 2014. Marqise Lee catches the eye at receiver and will be joined by fellow rookie Allen Robinson, Marcedes Lewis would be a welcome return at tight end if he can stay healthy, Luke Joeckel is back at left tackle, Zane Beadles comes in at guard and Toby Gerhart finally gets to emerge from the considerable shadow of Adrian Peterson. No wonder Henne seemed in a good mood when we met on Wednesday.

Jags camp 2

  • I like the way Blake Bortles carries himself – he has the look of a franchise quarterback… on and off the field. His size is impressive, the arm strength is there and although he is far from the finished product, Bradley told me his good days are starting to out-number the bad. I also spoke with former Jaguars Pro Bowl passer Mark Brunell, who stressed that Bortles is a gym rat and a film rat and that he works tirelessly to get better. It’s hard not to love that approach from a young quarterback.
  • I had a nice chat with Peter King of Sports Illustrated, themmqb.com and NBC’s Sunday Night Football in Jacksonville. Peter remains very supportive of the NFL’s international growth in London, but he feels a selection of games each year might be the solution rather than a franchise. Peter was suggesting London could be in line for between six and eight games per season in the future.

Did you know?

Blake Bortles grew up as a Green Bay Packers fan and his favourite all-time player is, of course, Brett Favre.

They said what?

“I think if you had to pick two guys, I would like to be somewhere between Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck – a big guy who is athletic and can run a little bit but also throw the football.”

Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles when I asked him if he resembled any quarterbacks currently in the NFL.

Jags camp 3

Final Thought

In addition to sitting down with Gus Bradley on Wednesday, I also spent some time with general manager Dave Caldwell. And it’s hard to come away from meeting those men without positive feelings. Sure, there is still a long way to go in Jacksonville but the good thing is that Bradley and Caldwell recognise that. They acknowledged that there is some buzz around the Jags now and they have enjoyed a couple of good drafts and this past free agency signing period, but both men are keen to point out there is much work to be done. They are right and the roster is far from complete, but the Jaguars are a team on the up.

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