A new era of Jacksonville Jaguars football materialized on a practice field Saturday afternoon during the team's three-day minicamp. It marked the first on-field practice for first-year Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, who saw first-round picks Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, among other rookies, don the teal and black for the first time.
As reported by NFL network Insider Ian Rapoport on Thursday, Lawrence was limited to start minicamp as he rehabs from the surgery on his non-throwing shoulder this past February. The Jags rookie quarterback was given a limit of 30-40 throws per session on Saturday.
"We're being cautious," Meyer said of Lawrence's pitch count, via the team's website. "We probably could go a little bit more."
Under his direction, Meyer said Lawrence won't hand the ball off or take direct snaps yet because he ultimately doesn't want him ending up on the ground. Meyer said Lawrence should be "close to a full-go" by the end of phase three of minicamp, which is scheduled to run through June 17.
"(The shoulder) is feeling great, no complaints here," Lawrence told reporters after practice. "I'm making great progress but still got to be smart and take it easy."
Selected as the No. 1 overall pick this past April, Lawrence enters his first season as the face of a new era in Jacksonville. The cautious approach may test the 21-year-old's patience early on but it's also appreciated at the same time.
"I really appreciate the staff here looking out for my best interests, trying to slowly get me back in game shape and throwing shape for practice, so I can go out there full-go whenever the whole team's back together," Lawrence said. "I want to go out there and just throw and go, but I think it's better for me in the long run just to take it slow and get acclimated."
Etienne was the straw that stirred conversations on Saturday as the running back took reps from the wide receiver position.
"At the worst-case scenario, you have a running back with the skillset of a wide receiver," Meyer explained. "Best-case scenario you'll have a hybrid player who does both and that's what we're hoping to develop out of Travis."
Meyer said Etienne will take all his reps at wideout for the extent of this three-day minicamp. Etienne revealed after practice that Meyer told him he'd be working as a pass catcher the day after the Jags selected him No. 25 overall.
"I feel great about it," Etienne said. "It's going to help me maximize my opportunity and skill set. I feel like coach knows what's he's doing and I think it's going to work out well.
"Football is a game of matchups. We're just trying to get the best matchups. I feel like he know what's he's doing and I think it's going to work out well."
Etienne had 48 receptions for 588 yards and two touchdowns in his senior season at Clemson, but was heralded for his 7.2 yards per carry over the course of his four years. Adding a pass-catching skill set in the pro game will only benefit Etienne in the long run, as well as add an intriguing weapon for Lawrence wherever he lines up.
"I'm glad he's getting work, getting those reps right now," Lawrence said of his former Clemson teammate, via ESPN. "He's just a dynamic player. He can do a lot of different things but that's something that he's not very used to. At Clemson he was pretty much in the backfield all the time. He ran a lot of routes out of the backfield but splitting out wide is something he hasn't done a lot.
"It's cool seeing him out there, working, learning something new. Just to see the improvements he makes every day is really cool."