We know that the Jacksonville Jaguars are fully committed to Nick Foles being their leader at quarterback. However on Thursday, they made an interesting commitment to another new QB, as well.
The Jaguars have signed third-round pick TE Josh Oliver, sixth-round pick QB Gardner Minshew, and seventh-round pick NT Dontavius Russell. They also released LB Blair Brown, G Parker Ehinger, FB Dimitri Flowers, QB Cody Kessler, and RB David Williams…. https://t.co/JaCUFMKZgL
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) May 9, 2019
First on Minshew (shown in the snowy game with rival Washington last year). He was a graduate transfer from East Carolina, and had a fantastic one season for Mike Leach’s “Air Raid Offense” at Washington State a year ago.
Minshew was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year leading the country in passing yards per game (367.6), and third nationally in completion percentage at 71%. He was fourth in touchdown passes with 38, and Washington State set a school and Pac 12 record with 4,898 yards of offense with Minshew throwing for at least 400 yards in 6 games.
Finally, Minshew finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting for 2018, as well.
Obviously, Coach Doug Marrone and new offensive coordinator John Defilippo loved Minshew enough not only to draft him, but to believe that he can step in, if needed for the upcoming season. That’s because the Jaguars don’t have another very experienced quarterback with virtual unknowns Tanner Lee and Alex McGough, as the other options at the moment.
The Jaguars turned to Cody Kessler after benching starter Blake Bortles in November, and he went 2 – 2 but was largely ineffective trying to throw the ball. He finished with just 709 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions in five games played.
Obviously, Jacksonville is counting on Foles, who was the Super Bowl 52 MVP for the Eagles in their win over the Patriots. That was with Defilippo having been his quarterback coach in Philadelphia.
So, that’s definitely a commitment.
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.