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Jacksonville Jaguars

Should there be concern Jaguars Jalen Ramsey still isn’t in camp?

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

All the right things are being said. However, today is the fifth day of Jaguars training camp (their fourth workout), and there is still no sign of star defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

And more troubling for Jags fans, every time he’s being asked, coach Doug Marrone is providing no real specifics on what’s going on with Ramsey. And most importantly, when will Ramsey will join his teammates for the important work?

Marrone met with the media Monday morning prior to the Jaguars latest practice:

“When he’s ready to come back,” was the answer the second year Jacksonville coach gave to the media when asked, if he had an update on Ramsey’s return after the birth of his daughter last week.

Marrone was then asked directly, if his family (girlfriend and/or baby) were doing alright, and he evasively and quickly dismissed it with,

“You’ll have to ask him. I’m not gonna talk about someone else’s personal…family situation.”

On follow up, Marrone was then asked, if he personally knew if there was a mitigating family reason that Ramsey hasn’t shown up, yet. And he repeated,

“I’m not gonna talk about anyone’s personal situation. I mean, when it comes down to things of that nature, it’s a different situation.”

So, now we at F.F.I., and anyone else monitoring this, get more curious.

First, there could be a situation with his girlfriend or the newborn that is medical and is serious. No one wants that, and football is secondary to that, if it’s what’s going on.

However, if it is what’s going on, at this point, Ramsey should say so himself or authorize Marrone or a team statement to say so.

After all Ramsey provided this Saturday update on mom/baby on Twitter:

The fans/media need to have a clearer and better explanation, as to why one of the players that the Jaguars are counting on heavily, who’s under contract, who’s contract cannot be re-negotiated under the CBA rules, yet, and yet, has not shown up for their first four practices, is not around.

Further, if Ramsey, who is frequently on social media, can tweet this Saturday afternoon in response to a tweet about NFL players not getting guaranteed contracts:

Or can tweet bible verses on Sunday for his followers on Twitter to contemplate:

Then, he or someone, can let us all know what is going on with the status of him reporting.

Further, when Ramsey was not present during off-season OTA’s, speculation in North Florida was that there is either some acrimony or financial motive that is really in play.

But, again, unlike Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell’s dispute with the team over not getting a long term deal and not showing up to their camp, Ramsey cannot receive any new money or new deal until after he plays this season.

Those are the rookie contract rules. And no amount of staying away from Jaguars practices changes that.

Maybe, there’s a really good explanation. Or maybe, it’s the early makings of a Jaguars mess.

A mess, where Jalen Ramsey is using the birth of his daughter to take more time off and not have to practice with his team.

All someone has to do is explain it.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Even without Fowler and Ramsey- Jaguars defense flexed muscle Saturday

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars built their 2017 success largely around a dominant defense. And Saturday in Minneapolis, that defense was once, again on display, as Jacksonville stymied the Vikings starters in the first half of a 14-10 win.

Against much ballyhooed free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Jaguars were able to pressure him and keep Minnesota from having a single third down conversion, while Cousins was in the game. He finished 0-6 on the money down and just 3-8 total for a measly 12 yards.

And the Jags also got an early takeaway on this play against Latavius Murray:

Malik Jackson actually got his hand in there for the strip tackle and big Calais Campbell fell on the ball. This erased an awful interception from Blake Bortles just earlier.

In the end, Minnesota could only muster 67 total yards in the first half. So, all in all defensive coordinator Todd Wash has to be very pleased with what his unit did.

And, this was without defensive end Dante Fowler and All-Pro corner Jalen Ramsey, who both had been left behind on team suspension for the week. The hope from coach Doug Marrone and the organization is that those two will be ready to straighten back up and start contributing.

One disappointing moment was the NFL’s continued crackdown of helmet use that affected a play by Pro Bowler A.J. Bouye. Bouye did have his low, but so did Vikings FB C.J. Ham after making a catch and heading up field. It was the Jags first personal foul helmet hit in their two games.

Still, it was one half in the preseason’s second game, but still Jacksonville has to be pleased overall with what came out of it.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Three things to watch as Jaguars battle Vikings

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s preseason game number two for the Jaguars in Minnesota after Jacksonville concluded practicing for two days with the Vikings at their facilities.

We will likely see starters on both sides for both teams play through much of the first half of the contest.

With that in mind, here are three things we’ll be watching out for Saturday afternoon:

Jaguars running game

It’s no secret that the foundation of the Jags offense is based around the ability of the backs, specifically Leonard Fournette, to get something going on the ground. This is key for the play action pass game that QB Blake Bortles succeeds the best off of, as the game where’s on.

Now, it would not be surprising if Fournette only sees a series or two. After all, he’s way to valuable to risk injury in meaningless August games. Fournette did carry it eight times for 24 yards last week against the Saints.

However, back up running back T.J. Yeldon should see some significant time in this one. Yeldon played well, as a stand-in for Fournette a couple of times a year ago. However, he’s never really lived up to his second round draft status. He carried five times last Thursday night.

Backups Corey Grant and Tim Cook will also see some action, as the game continues, especially in the second half.

Pressure on Vikings QB Kirk Cousins

Minnesota broke the bank giving Cousins a massive three year free agent contract, completely guaranteed, at over $80 million. Those staggering numbers mean that the Vikings intend to have Cousins sling the ball, a bunch, throughout 2018.

Cousins led a crisp opening drive in Denver (above) in his debut last Saturday  night

However, on Saturday, he’s facing one of the top pass rushing teams in the NFL in the Jaguars.

Granted the week got off to a rocky start with defensive line mates Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue scuffling at the end of Sunday’s practice. Fowler, and defensive back Jalen Ramsey were both suspended for the rest of the week and left home for their actions.

So, now will the Jags D be able to refocus and see players like Calais Campbell, Ngakoue, Lerentee McCray and Marcel Dareus be able to solidify things along the defensive line? Also, it’s unclear if rookie first round pick DT Taven Bryan will suit up in this one. He was with the team going through part of the workouts in Minnesota, but it’s questionable as to his status.

Handle the environment

Unlike last week at home, the Jaguars are playing in the domed U.S. Bank Stadium and there is massive support and optimism for the Vikes in 2018.

Preseason or not, the loud crowd will make it hard to hear for Bortles and the offense early.

Will the Jags keep composure and mental errors to a minimum?

Will the inability to verbally communicate at times on the field rattle them?

We’re about to find out.

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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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