Updated: Jun 10
The NFL’s off-season training program gets underway this week for teams across the league. These organized team activities (OTAs) are an opportunity for a franchise to see how their team will look before training camp kicks off in late July.
In Jacksonville, Monday was the first chance for the Jaguars to continue building off last season’s success. The Jags are coming off their first winning record in five years and a thrilling wild-card playoff victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
With several free agents added earlier this year and 13 rookies in their 2023 draft class, OTAs will help to build confidence and chemistry throughout the roster. With a full week of football ahead, here are four takeaways from a busy first day of Jaguars OTAs.
Missing Defensive Star
Jaguars’ head coach Doug Pederson said outside linebacker, Josh Allen is not attending OTAs. However, Pederson also mentioned the team is in contact with Allen, and the Jaguars know he is working out.
The 25-year-old has 27.5 sacks, 185 tackles, seven forced fumbles and one interception over his 57 career games. He made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season when he recorded career-highs in sacks (10.5) and QB hits (23).
Allen started all 17 games last season and continued to be a productive player. Missing the voluntary portion of the off-season program shouldn’t be a concern as he enters his fifth NFL season.
New Offensive Weapon
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley was a hot topic on the first day of the Jaguars program. The former Atlanta Falcon sat out the 2022 season due to suspension for going against the NFL’s gambling policy. Ridley got traded to Jacksonville in November. Monday was his first action with the team.
First look at Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley on the field in team’s first OTA. pic.twitter.com/4s928QxM3C — Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) May 22, 2023
“I’ve been really impressed with Calvin,” said Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor. “I’ve watched every snap Calvin has played in the NFL. So we’re very confident in the player we’re getting.”
Ridley had 3,342 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns on 248 receptions in four NFL seasons. Forming a relationship with quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be key for the veteran wide receiver to have a strong bounce-back season.
Other than Josh Allen, only offensive tackle Cam Robinson, tight end Evan Engram and a few undrafted free agents were missing on the first day of OTAs, per John Shipley of Jaguar Report.
Head coach Doug Pederson acknowledged the commitment of the team during his Monday morning press conference, saying he was impressed with the turnout for the voluntary program.
Lawrence Gelling With Team
The offence as a whole had a solid first day. According to Mia O’Brien, there were a limited number of dropped passes between Trevor Lawrence and his wide receivers. O’Brien also reported that Lawrence finished his day with a 35-yard completion to five-year NFL veteran Christian Kirk.
Trevor caps it off with a gorgeous, 35+ yard completion to Kirk through double coverage “Right down the pipe!” — Coach Campo https://t.co/fPFRzfRwd3 — Mia O'Brien (@MiaOBrienTV) May 22, 2023
Although OTAs are non-contact practices and catching the ball is much easier without a defender all over you, building trust between quarterback and wide receiver will make the team better in the long haul.
It’s hard to gain much insight from one day of limited practice. Some players that look great in OTAs could crumble in training camp and not make the 53-man roster. However, at the moment, spirits are high in Jacksonville. Pederson seemed confident in his press conference, yet also mentioned numerous times that there is still work to be done.
The Jaguars have one of the top-five youngest rosters going into the NFL this season, so getting as many reps in as possible will be crucial to player development and team success. The Jags continue OTAs on Tuesday and will hit the field again on Thursday.
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