As expected, on Wednesday the NFL made it clear to Jaguars VP of Football Tom Coughlin that when it comes to workouts in the off season, “voluntary” definitely means voluntary.
The NFL's letter warned Coughlin and the Jaguars that any future similar comments about players and voluntary offseason workouts could lead to discipline in the form of a fine or potential forfeiture of OTA practice days.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) April 24, 2019
This came on the heels of Coughlin’s comments last week regarding the absences of defensive back Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith from the Jaguars “voluntary” workouts. Coughlin answered a question Thursday about Jags star defenders not attending the team’s voluntary workouts. His message through the media was, “they should all be here.”
NFLPA president Eric Winston had made it abundantly clear through a statement shortly after Coughlin’s comments, that the players had specifically gotten language into the CBA regarding, when and when they do not, have to be involved in team activities.
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 18, 2019
And, again, the key word is “voluntary.”
We wrote previously two years ago, as Coughlin first came back on board to run the Jaguars front office, about he and team violating NFLPA protocol on players being required to be at the team facility for physicals in advance of workouts that April.
As Graziano reported, the Jaguars are being threatened with possible fines and loss of formal workouts.
And, there have been other franchises, who were either having too much contact in off season workouts, where it was supposed to be minimal or like the off-season of 2016. That’s when the Seahawks were essentially holding an outright practice with contact that June, which is expressly forbidden.
In that instance, the NFL has penalized Seattle their fifth round pick in the 2017 draft, fined the team $400,000 and coach Pete Carroll $200,000. They also lost three of their “Organized Team Activities” or OTA’s for the 2017 off season, as well. It was their third such violation of the policies during Carroll’s tenure.
The bottom line is that the Jaguars, having been warned twice in the last three years, will now have to be aware that significant fines and action could be coming, even for comments.
Super Bowl winning former “old school” coaches, included.
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.