Make no mistake, the Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to “wipe the slate clean” from a huge backwards step season of 2018. A year after a darling unexpected playoff run, the Jaguars went back to being….the Jaguars at 5-11 last year. And, to that end, VP of football Tom Coughlin wants to make it clear, that everyone should be fully committed to the new attempt at turnaround.
Further, Coughlin made waves Thursday when, not surprisingly, answer a question about Jags star defensive back Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith not attending the team’s voluntary workouts this week. Coughlin’s message through the media was, “they should all be here.”
That’s because, Coughlin, who coached the Giants to two Super Bowl wins, understands the commitment and unified locker room that it takes to turn around a floundering franchise.
However, not everybody is taking it that way. First, NFL Players Association President Eric Winston made it very clear later on Thursday what “voluntary” means:
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 18, 2019
Wiinston knows, from a long career of playing, that their organization’s negotiations with the NFL have specifically addressed players not being required to be at the team facility all the time, week after week, in the offseason. Hence the word, “voluntary.”
Well, the debate continued on Friday, not only in the media and the internet, but Jacksonville sportsradio, etc. And so, Ramsey’s agent, David Mulugheta, sent an indirect response to Coughlin and the team about Ramsey choosing, once again, to not train with his teammates during non- mandatory weeks and practices of the offseason:
To be clear, Jalen Ramsey is exactly where Jalen should be during his off season. He’s spending time with his young daughter & family while training in his hometown of Nashville. In addition the Jags are fully aware of why he is not taking part in the voluntary off season program
— David Mulugheta (@DavidMulugheta) April 19, 2019
Clearly, there are two sides to this situation. But a problem for Ramsey (and Muugheta) is the team has dealt with Jalen Ramsey repeatedly being a headache on and off the field and this is only the latest example.
Ramsey stayed away from all of the off-season work a year ago, which also irked Coughlin, but then his behavior towards a Jacksonville beat writer, who was trying to film Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue getting into a tussle after a training camp practice last August, got Ramsay suspended for an entire week.
The Jaguars were clearly trying to send a message for the former first-round pick from FSU to straighten up and behave, because he has a big future and the team has an important decision on giving him a big contract.
But then, simultaneously that training camp suspension, unsolicited, on his own and classlessly, Ramsey took shots at almost every active quarterback in the NFL in an extended profile article with GQ Magazine. This included, slamming quarterbacks that Ramsey knew he and his Jaguar teammates would be playing against last season and frequently in the future.
Coughlin, Coach Doug Marrone and the organization were not only embarrassed, but angered, by what Ramsey did last August.
So now, you fast forward to this season and Ramsey about to enter the final year of his rookie deal. He’s also hoping that the Jaguars will open the bank vault and pay him massively on a new long-term contract.
However, he should take a closer look at exactly what Coughlin, Marrone and the organization did to his teammate Fowler, who did not get the 5th year option on his rookie deal picked up a year ago. And then, he was eventually traded to the Rams in October after continuing to be an off-the-field headache with arrests, poor practice work, etc.
Now, in comparison and fairness to what Ramsey has contributed to the Jaguars over his first three years vs. what Fowler did not do during his four years, it’s not close. Ramsey was named All-Pro two seasons ago and has been in the Pro Bowl twice. Further, he’s largely respected as one of the best one-on-one “cover corners” in the NFL.
Still, It would not surprise anyone, if Jacksonville has the same mentality, right now, with Ramsey headed into this fall: “see if he “shapes up” or go ahead and deal him for something in return before having to break the bank and be on the hook for many years to keep him in Jacksonville.
So, not showing up for voluntary workouts doesn’t mean very much on the surface.
That is, unless it’s adding to your running total of issues and your team growing more and more frustrated with your antics. And it ultimately, ends up costing you a possible reward with them down the line.
That’s where Ramsey and the Jaguars are, right now.
Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice
After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.
Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 17, 2019
First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.
— Ben Murphy (@BenMurphyTV) August 17, 2019
Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) August 25, 2018
Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.
Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.
However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.
The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.