Five things to watch in minicamp


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars return to the practice fields for a mandatory minicamp on Tuesday-Thursday. The workouts on Tuesday (10:40 a.m. - 1 p.m. ET) and Wednesday (10:55 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. ET) are open to the public but fans must register at Jaguars.com.

Here are five things to watch during the minicamp:

The health of the receivers: At one point the Jaguars were down seven receivers because of injuries, which forced the team to sign undrafted rookie Brandon Wimberly and claim Kevin Smith off waivers from Arizona. That really impacted the offense during the final two weeks of organized team activities because the Jaguars were forced to rely on undrafted rookies, former practice squad players, and only one receiver who had caught a pass in a game (Kerry Taylor). Mike Brown (groin) and Ace Sanders (hamstring) returned to the field last Thursday and Cecil Shorts (calf) said he was hoping to return this week. The status of second-round picks Allen Robinson (hamstring) and Marqise Lee (ankle), Tandon Doss (calf), and Lamaar Thomas (knee) won't be known until Tuesday.

The running back battle: Denard Robinson, Jordan Todman and Storm Johnson are fighting for playing time behind starter Toby Gerhart. Robinson looked very good in OTAs and dropped just one pass in the nine workouts -- a significant improvement from his rookie year. Johnson was impressive as well, but he still has to prove he can take care of the ball and can pass block. Todman is the only proven player behind Gerhart but he's going to have to hold off Robinson and Johnson to stay No. 2.

Blake Bortles' progress: After a shaky performance early in OTAs the Jaguars' first-round draft pick bounced back nicely and finished strong. Coach Gus Bradley said Bortles is beginning to look more poised in the huddle and on the field. The interesting thing to watch is how comfortable he is getting with the offense. He's had time to assimilate what they've installed so far so he should be more decisive in his decisions and throws when they run that part of the offense. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and Frank Scelfo are working with Bortles on his lower-body mechanics as well, which should help with velocity and accuracy.

Branching out: Defensive end Andre Branch is one the players that Bradley has consistently praised throughout OTAs. It's hard to judge offensive and defensive linemen until the pads go on, but Branch's quickness off the ball has been noticeable. Branch may never be the elite pass-rusher the Jaguars envisioned when they took him in the second round in 2012 but he's far from the bust he looked like in the first season-and-a-half of his career.

Center of attention: I get a lot of Jaguars fans absolutely crushing center Mike Brewster in my weekly chats, but Bradley said he did solid work in OTAs. Again, it's hard to tell how well linemen are playing until they're in full pads, but the fact that Bradley has praised Brewster should be encouraging.