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Jaguars LT Cam Robinson admits he got by in 2017 on athleticism

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt, playing left tackle and protecting a right handed quarterback is the most important position to an NFL offensive line. And for the Jaguars, they thrust their 2017 second round pick, Alabama’s Cam Robinson, into that spot.

First, the left tackle that they acquired from Miami, former Pro Bowler Branden Albert, had abruptly retired last August.  And, that meant that Robinson would be shifted from his natural right tackle spot in college to the left side.

After a Jaguars OTA late this week, Robinson revealed how difficult that switch was to Florida Times Union writer Phillip Heilman, including what he’s learned for his second upcoming season:

“I’m a lot more comfortable,” he said. “The game is slowing down a lot. I know what I’m doing now. This time last year, I was out there just going off straight ability. Then I got a better idea of what we’re trying to get done, and that helped me play faster.”

Another interesting aspect of what Robinson believes was a short coming in his rookie year is getting stronger. This from a 6’6 320 lb tackle, who played for the premier college football program of the last 10 years in Tuscaloosa, AL. Still, he and Jaguars offensive line coach Pat Flaherty agree that he must get more strength in a key area.

Flaherty told the Times-Union, “The thing about players coming into this league is in their first year and second year, they find out what it takes,” Flaherty said. “A lot of [Robinson’s] strength coming out of college was in his legs, which is good for an offensive lineman. But you have to develop your upper body as well, which will give you balance and core strength. We’re seeing that.”

So, that has meant more time in the weight room and more time in weeks like this, even in a helmet and shorts. to start seeing it translate on the field.

Say what you want about the Leonard Fournette’s, the Calais Campbell’s and the Jalen Ramsey’s.

But, the Jaguars ability to block (and protect Bortles) is critical and Robinson’s development and improvement are going to be needed in 2018.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles saw improved offensive play Thrusday

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars wrapped up their second day of practice with the Vikings Thursday afternoon in Minnesota and their field general on offense has liked the challenge of going against one of the better defenses in the NFL.

QB Blake Bortles and his teammates knew they would get a test for two days and that they did. And on day two, they began inside when rain and the threats of thunderstorms in the Eagan MN, area sent them scurrying. They later got back outside and finished the workout.

And the fifth year QB thought they made strides. Bortles spoke to the media after the joint practice concluded:

Bortles made a good observation that while the Jaguars run a similar defense to the Vikes, their first team rarely goes against the Jacksonville first team even in training camp. The last 48 hours have been “good on good” or first team vs. first team,

“So, to actually get to come out here and play against that actual defense I think is good. As far as, seeing some of the stuff they do? Obviously, they’re not going to show us everything in practice. I am sure that something will happen in the game. Or, maybe not since it’s a preseason game. But, we gotta be ready to make adjustments on the sidelines if they show us something different.”

And another important factor for Bortles is that at this point in camp a year ago, he was struggling, including in the two day practices with the Buccaneers. Then, he played poorly in the second preseason game and was benched with the first team for Chad Henne.

As it turned out, Bortles continued to work and practice hard, was given the chance to get the starting job back before week one, played well and never relinquished it.

Now, he and the offense a year wiser in Nathaniel Hackett’s system and looking to make strides Saturday afternoon, when they tee it up in this preseason game.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars LB Telvin Smith enjoyed going against another Nole Wednesday

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars traveled to the “Great White North” for two practices with the Vikings starting on Wednesday and a guy who was eager to be out there for college allegiance reasons was LB Telvin Smith.

Smith a Pro Bowler a year ago and a defensive leader, not only got the chance to go against an opponent other than the Jags offense in practice. He also got the opportunity to be on the field with former FSU and now second year Vikings running back, Dalvin Cook.

He spoke on that subject and others afterwards:

“It was great seeing new competition. Being able to go against they (sic) backs. Obviously, (Latavius) Murray, Dalvin Cook, good backs in this league. Great looks to be going against. They’re going to push us. It was good,” Smith said.

On the FSU reunion that also included former Seminole DB Xavier Rhodes too,

“It was great just to get back on the field and see Xa (Rhodes) back out there, to actually be on the field with Dalvin and to actually compete against him… To get out here. To watch him work. It was good work. It’s always good to team up with guys who fought under that spear (FSU).”

Cook appears to be fully healed from an ACL injury suffered early last season. And runs like this one in their preseason opener at Denver on Saturday night more than demonstrated that:

Murray is more of the” between the tackles” pounding runner, who the Vikes had hoped to use in tandem with Cook, until Cook’s season was unexpectedly cut short.

Back to the discussion with Smith from Wednesday and being asked how much he keeps in touch with Rhodes and Cook during the year?

“They my enemies during the season. So, you know, it’s a “check on’em,” but at the end of the day I gotta check on these guys in the Teal (his Jags teammates.”

Obviously, Smith and his Jacksonville teammates will get to “Check on” Cook for real Saturday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Jaguars Jalen Ramsey fuels more controversy with article comments

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Jalen Ramsey is a growing headache for the Jaguars.

The real question becomes, will his play in 2018 live up to the aggravation and frustration, he’s regularly causing? This comes three days after the team suspended him for “conduct unbecoming a Jaguar” for his behavior after teammates Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue had an altercation at the end of practice.

Now, an extensive and rhetoric heavy interview that Ramsey did with GQ Magazine and GQ.com, posted online Wednesday morning. And you have to believe that when Jaguars VP of football Tom Coughlin, and coach Doug Marrone were made aware of the article/Ramsey’s comments, they were fuming.

Ramsey began to rant in the Q and A on quarterbacks, including ones that Jacksonville will be playing this season

On Ben Roethlisberger (Week 8)

“Big Ben [Roethlisberger], I think he’s decent at best… It’s not Big Ben, it’s [Antonio Brown]. Big Ben slings the ball a lot of the time. He just slings it, and his receivers go get it. He has a strong arm, but he ain’t all that. I played him twice last year, and he really disappointed me. He’ll be in the Hall of Fame and all that.”

On Bills rookie Josh Allen (Week 9)

“I think [Buffalo Bills draft pick Josh] Allen is trash. I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show too. That’s a stupid draft pick to me. We play them this year, and I’m excited as hell. I hope he’s their starting quarterback. He played at Wyoming. Every time they played a big school—like, they played Iowa State, which is not a big school in my opinion because I went to Florida State, and he threw five interceptions, and they lost by a couple touchdowns or something like that.✞ He never beat a big school. If you look at his games against big schools, it was always hella interceptions, hella turnovers. It’s like: Yo, if you’re this good, why couldn’t you do better? He fits that mold, he’s a big, tall quarterback. Big arm, supposedly. I don’t see it, personally.”

Ramsey did have respect in the article for upcoming opponents Deshaun Watson of Houston (twice) and Carson Wentz of the Eagles,

“Deshaun Watson, he’ll be the league MVP in a couple years. One hundred percent. There’s not even a debate about that. Him and Carson Wentz, for every year starting now until five to ten years, it’s gonna be them two. They’re that good.”

He went on to rip Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, but praise others, including his own QB Blake Bortles in the article.

He also praised new Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, as “a winner. He’s a hell of a competitor.”

However, in the dynamic of this week, the team is in Minnesota without Ramsey, and Fowler, too, holding practices Wednesday and Thursday. His teammates will play Cousins and the Vikings Saturday afternoon.

However, even though he’s not present, you have to believe that Ramsey’s comments will have him front and center on Wednesday and beyond.

The challenge for the Jaguars is can they minimize what Ramsey is doing negatively off the field and have it not be an issue as the “real football” gets going in September.

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