You might think this time of year would be tedious for a veteran like Julius Thomas. But after missing last year’s training camp and trying to get involved with the Jaguars offense as the season progressed, he says these OTA’s for the Jaguars are important.
“This is probably the biggest time of the year for growing and learning” he said after the Tuesday practice. “We have so much extra time. We’re able to look at the film, look at some of the things we did last year and figure out why we weren’t executing at a high level.”
Although Thomas had some critical catches for the Jaguars as the season wore on, he admitted he never was really comfortable with what he was doing. His “feel” for what QB Blake Bortles was doing and what he wanted just wasn’t there.
“The timing has definitely improved,” he explained. “I think that me and Blake have a much better relationship, a much better understanding of each other and most importantly getting more reps.”
With Thomas being part of an offense with Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqis Lee, Marcedes Lewis, Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon, sounds formidable. Robinson believes having the veteran Tight End for the whole season after last year’s production will be important.
“Extremely important,” he said in the locker room. “I think for the games he got out there last year, he was also important. He made some big plays; some big catches for us, down the stretch. I thought he was important last year.”
And while the Jaguars had some production on offense that turned some heads, Thomas said he saw a lot of missed opportunities to win games.
“[There was] a lot to hang our hats on at the end of that season but also a lot of glaring things that kept us from winning games – ball security, execution, how we executed in the red area, third down. If you want to be an elite team, you have to be good in those categories.”
Coming from a player who’s been on winning teams, that opinion should carry some weight with his teammates. Thomas thinks the Jaguars can get to that elite level. With work.
“We have to pay better attention to detail to hit our spots,” he said talking about the Jaguars issues in certain areas. “You’re not going to get great opportunities all the time but when you get them, you have to take advantage of them. That’s what the great teams do and that’s what we’re trying to build. If we have third and short, let’s make sure we execute.”