1st rule of Jaguars rookie camp: Don’t touch QB Lawrence


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Trevor Lawrence opened Jacksonville’s rookie minicamp on a pitch count. Coaches and teammates were essentially given an even stricter rule regarding the No. 1 pick and franchise quarterback: Don’t touch him.

Lawrence is three months removed from labrum surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder. The cartilage has healed enough to practice, but the Jaguars are taking precautions to make sure the former Clemson star doesn’t do any damage while he fully recovers. He is expected to be full go before training camp in late July.

“The No. 1 issue is falling,” coach Urban Meyer said Saturday. “He can’t hand off right now. He can’t take a direct snap from under center. We’re just worried about any chance of that arm getting jammed right now. … We can’t have (him) on the ground. That’s the biggest thing: We’ve got to keep people away from him. The pitch count’s not as big as the fact of keeping him upright.”

Lawrence is being held between 30 and 40 passes, not including warmups, during each of the team’s two practices that include 18 rookies and first-year players. Most of those Saturday went to assistant coaches.

By the end of the 90-minute session, Lawrence had reached his limit and was going through plays and faking slow-motion throws during team drills.

“I want to get 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 just because I’m still recovering,” he said. “It’s feeling great. No complaints. I’m making great progress but still just got to be smart and take it easy.”

Lawrence added that lifting weights is the only physical limitation he’s dealing with right now.

“Got full range of motion pretty much,” he said. “Need to work on it a little bit, but I’m feeling great so we’re taking steps in the right direction for sure, just trying to make sure I’m good come Game 1.”

Four rookies were held out of practice. Cornerback Tyson Campbell, a second-round pick from Georgia, tweaked a hamstring during the opening day of rookie camp. Defensive tackle Jay Tufele, a fourth-round pick from USC, was held out after receiving one positive and one negative COVID-19 test result.

Safety Andre Cisco, a third-rounder from Syracuse, and linebacker Dylan Moses, an undrafted rookie from Alabama, are both recovering from knee injuries.

So 14 guys were on the field. But all eyes were on Lawrence and fellow first-rounder Travis Etienne, the 25th overall pick out of Clemson and the Atlantic Coast Conference’s all-time leading rusher.

Etienne worked exclusively at receiver, lining up in the slot, out wide and even a play or two at H-back. Lawrence’s shoulder may have played a role in having Etienne stay out of the backfield, but Meyer said coaches wanted to get a look at him in a “slash” role.

“Worst-case scenario, you have a running back with the skillset of a wide receiver,” Meyer said. “Best-case scenario, you’ll have a hybrid player who can do both, and that’s what we’re hoping to develop out of Travis.”

Etienne welcomed the move and believes it could be beneficial for him and the offense.

“Football is a game of matchups, create problems,” Etienne said. “We’re just trying to get the best matchups. I think it’s going to work out well.”

Meyer slowed practice Saturday to a “better teach tempo.” But he made it clear to his players that things would crank up when organized team activities begin May 24.

Lawrence, Etienne and everyone else on Jacksonville’s 90-man roster could have tight end Tim Tebow on the roster by then.

Meyer said he planned to make a decision on signing Tebow following Sunday’s rookie camp finale. Tebow last played in a regular-season game in 2012 (with the New York Jets) and was last on an NFL roster during training camp in 2015 (with the Philadelphia Eagles). He spent the last five years playing baseball in the New York Mets organization.

“All our focus is on the guys right now and we’ll have a chat Sunday,” Meyer said.

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