Jacksonville and Minnesota each fell one game short of the Super Bowl last season Darius Leonard Jersey , and they had another important trait in common, too.
The Vikings finished first in the NFL last season with both the fewest yards and points allowed, and that didn't go unnoticed by the Jaguars. They were second and, naturally, not pleased about it.
These joint practices the teams conducted in Minnesota this week naturally gave Jacksonville's proud group another opportunity to show off those skills, even if there was no obvious way to compare. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone even needled his players a little before the trip as another way to bring out their best.
As the second day of sessions at the sparkling, sprawling Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in suburban Minneapolis wrapped up after a thunderstorm interruption on Thursday afternoon, the takeaway was clear from both sides.
That other team is good.
The time was well spent.
"I would consider it again. I think it depends on the team and things like that. Both teams were very respectful of one another," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after practice. "There was really no fighting or nothing like that. No trash talking. It went really smooth."
The Jaguars and Vikings will play on Saturday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium. Then they'll go their separate ways for likely a few years, unless they are able to take that final step and match up in the Super Bowl. This experience Ryan Kelly Jersey , particularly facing these star-packed defenses, ought to stick with them for a while.
"It's a great reminder of why practice is so important every week during the season," Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said, "because each defense has those nuances that, if you're not on top of it, will make for a long day on Sundays."
Fortunately for the Vikings, the Jaguars aren't on their 2018 regular-season schedule. Defensive end Calais Campbell had a disruptive couple of days going against the Vikings and their injury-thinned offensive line.
"They've got names, they've got experience, and they've got production," Cousins said. "Certainly that's where a lot of great defenses are founded http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/adrian-peterson-jersey , is on the defensive line. I have a lot of respect for their group up front."
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had his share of plays thwarted by the Vikings.
"When you see the matchups and you look at the talent on the other side of the ball, you're looking at that and you're saying, 'Listen, these are the type of players that you have to go against to be a heck of a football team in the NFL,'" Marrone said.
For Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who's now past the 10-month mark in his recovery from reconstructive ACL surgery on his left knee that cut short a promising rookie season, the Jaguars defense was a welcome sight.
"I was pumped up. It actually felt like I was going into a game," said Cook, who was held out of the exhibition opener at Denver last week and might remain on the sideline as a precaution on Saturday.
Though there were no late hits or unnecessarily rough stuff, facing the Jaguars gave Cook some valuable time against a defense that wasn't his own.
"Your guys take care of you Joe Looney Jersey , but with those guys coming in you have to react a little different," Cook said. "You have to cut. You have to do things differently. We take care of those guys, but there is just a little different vibe to it. You have to have a little pep in your step."
One of the players not present remained a primary talking point: Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He was left behind for disciplinary reasons and, earlier this week, made waves for his blunt commentary about opposing quarterbacks around the league published in a GQ magazine article .
"He has opinions, and he likes voicing them. That makes him a special guy. I love how authentic he is. He doesn't beat around the bush at all. That might make some guys try to play their best games against us, but that's how it's supposed to be anyway," Campbell said, adding: "We'll rally behind him, we'll play hard together and hopefully we can make him look like he knows what he's talking about."
The Carolina Panthers wasted little time naming a new defensive coordinator after Steve Wilks left to become head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera promoted defensive line coach Eric Washington as Wilks’ replacement on Monday http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/clay-matthews-jersey , just hours after the hiring of Wilks became official. Rivera said after the season that had a hunch Wilks would get a head coaching job, and was prepared in the event that it happened.
Wilks’ departure means the Panthers will enter next season with three new coordinators.
Rivera fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula two days after the season and replaced him with Norv Turner. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey was replaced by former assistant coach Chase Blackburn. McGaughey’s contract was up and he wanted to pursue other options.
It’s the second straight season the Panthers have lost a defensive coordinator to a head coaching gig.
Last year the Buffalo Bills hired Sean McDermott as their new head coach.
It’s expected that Wilks will take a few current Carolina assistants with him, including linebackers coach Al Holcomb and assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown.
Washington has served as the Panthers defensive line coach for the past seven seasons. During that span the Panthers defensive line has recorded more sacks (219) than any team in the NFL.
Washington’s defensive line has not only been productive in getting to the quarterback, but also fared well against the run. Carolina has ranked in the top six in the NFL in four of the past six seasons in run defense, including a No. 2 ranking in 2013.
Under Washington, the Panthers defensive line has featured two All-Pro selections and two Pro Bowl selections. Since 2013, a Panthers defensive lineman has earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week three times and NFC Defensive Player of the Month twice.
The Panthers defense has finished in the top 10 in defense five of the last six seasons, including four consecutive from 2012-15. Washington has been a part of a Carolina coaching staff that has led the Panthers to playoff appearances in four of the past five seasons, including a Super Bowl 50 appearance two seasons ago.
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