COMMENTARY I There as a line outside the gate of EverBank Field’s practice facility today. A line for practice. A line to see the newest draft picks. A line to see the future of this franchise.
It might sound odd that there is excitement about a line at a team practice – especially when it involved undrafted free agents who stood 18 in force and the nine drafted players from last week’s talent pool, but these are Jacksonville Jaguars fans and what they came to witness was hope of the future. The quarterback of the future. Two solid receivers, the two offensive linemen who could fill in some gaps and a bunch of players who did not hear their names called by the commission of the NFL but still have dreams of playing on Sundays.
Welcome to rookie minicamp and the start of the Jaguars 2014 season.
These are not your dad’s old Jaguars, the ones where names like Porter and Williams and Jones roamed the outside of the offense, hoping to catch passes and maybe move a flagstick. Players like Gabbert trying to make us all forget the precision of Mark Brunell or the running and passing ability of David Garrard.
These Jaguars are the ones who will move the ball down field, rely on the cannon-armed third pick in the Draft named Blake Bortles and pray to the NFL gods that Toby Gerhart is a stronger, more durable runner than what this team and its fan base is used to lately.
These Jaguars are the ones who will move offensive linemen backward and charge at opposing passers with names like Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Jason Babin and the every important Sen’Derrick Marks. The depth the defense with the likes of Paul Posluszny, Andre Branch and newly acquired Dekoda Watson.
This is the future of the franchise and for the 6,000 who attended practice today and cheering passes, tackles, running drills and the other monotonous drills that make players champions. This is a team the media and pundits laughed at all season long and are now singing the praises of team general manager Dave Caldwell and the uber-awesome head coach, Gus Bradley.
The Jaguars are real, they are on the rise and most of all, they will exceed the non-believers’ hopes for them this season. And if a two-day minicamp can bring 6,000 fans to a practice game with untapped talent, think what a preseason or regular season will do to stir excitement and fill the stands.