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Signs of the times

Posted Apr 3, 2012

Dwight Lowery: Passion and enthusiasm evident as off-season program begins.

There are changes going on around the Jaguars, and to safety Dwight Lowery, they’re about something more fundamental than improvements with the facilities.

The refurbished weight room. The new televisions in the cafeteria. The yet-to-be-finished locker room renovation.

Overall, Lowery said when the players reported this week for the team’s off-season conditioning program there very definitely was a feeling of new, and Lowery said that newness is more than a sign of the times. It may be a sign of good things ahead.

“I see more commitment all around,” Lowery said Tuesday, the second day of the Jaguars’ 2012 off-season program.

Lowery, who recently signed a long-term extension with the Jaguars, said what he sees as the off-season program begins is different than what he saw when he arrived last September shortly before the beginning of the regular season.

Lowery, who came to the Jaguars in a trade with the Jets eight days before the 2011 regular-season opener, said what he saw then was a team and a franchise that perhaps lacked direction.

“When I came here, it felt like it was all over the place,” Lowery said.

Lowery said there’s very definitely a different feeling around EverBank Field now.

“Moves that the organization makes greatly affect the product on the field,” he said. “I would assume that an organization looks at this NFL entity and says, ‘OK, what we put out on the field is a reflection of us. I don’t feel like this organization and the fans were very pleased with the product that was on the field and there have been a lot of changes.”

Lowery said Jaguars Owner Shad Khan sent a message shortly after agreeing to acquire the team that losing would no longer be acceptable, and Lowery said it’s a positive sign that there are tangible changes made to go along with the message.

“It always starts at the top and trickles down to the football field,” Lowery said. “I think we have a great owner, I think we have an owner that’s committed to winning. He came to us when we found out he was the owner and told us his goal was to win a Super Bowl.

“There are things that we showed last year as a football team that weren’t acceptable. Having heard that from the head guy, that sets the standard for everybody else who’s underneath him. It creates a standard we have to hold ourselves to because if not they are going to find somebody who’s going to hold themselves to that standard.”

And while Lowery said the physical changes are only the beginning, a positive beginning is better than the alternative.

“Everyone is excited and that’s where it starts – everyone being passionate and enthusiastic about what’s happening around here,” he said. “Obviously, it’s just a start. There are a lot of other things that have to happen – players’ commitment, how we are on the field together, offensively/defensively/special teams, getting to know each other.

“All that type of stuff is a challenge as well. Like I said, the type of people we have in this building and the commitment that they’re showing is going to take us a long way.”

Also around the Jaguars Tuesday:

*Newly signed wide receiver Laurent Robinson, who is entering his sixth NFL season, registered a career-high 54 receptions for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns last year after signing with Dallas two games into the season. He said while working with current Jaguars wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan last off-season had an influence on his improvement, the biggest change was staying on the field. “Last year, I was able to stay healthy,” he said. “I have to work extra hard to stay keep my body healthy and stay on the field.” Robinson said he’s not worried about pressure as a free-agent wide receiver coming to a team where the receivers struggled at times last year. “I’m pretty optimistic,” he said. “I have a positive attitude, a good outlook. I’m anxious to get this thing going.”

*Robinson said Tuesday while he and quarterback Blaine Gabbert have yet to throw together he anticipates that process starting soon. He said the coming weeks will be important for him and Gabbert. “I’m excited about working with him,” Robinson said. “We’ll get on the same page soon.”

*A topic around the Jaguars in recent weeks has been just how much not having an off-season hurt the team last season. Wide receiver Mike Thomas said he doesn’t think there’s any question it hurt, particularly with Gabbert being a rookie, and he said the team will benefit from the off-season this year. “It was key,” Thomas said. “The more you work at something, the better you get at it. Blaine gets another year under his belt, which is important. There’s a lot of work ahead, but I think everything is setting up the way it needs to be set up, so it should be good.”

*Thomas, like Lowery, sees a solid foundation being built, but Thomas said rather than seeing it in terms of facilities he sees it in the team’s recent personnel moves. “To me, and this is just my personal opinion, you get the sense a true franchise is being built with what has taken place,” Thomas said, referring to the team re-signing veterans such as end Jeremy Mincey, Lowery, defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, cornerback Rashean Mathis and linebacker Russell Allen. “We have a good core of guys here and a lot of guys are getting re-signed that were in limbo so to speak with contracts and things like that.  For those things to be taking place, I kind of get the sense the real camaraderie and real building blocks of our team …they are locking guys up basically.  That’s a good vibe because I don’t think you can really grow as a team until you have certain guys in certain areas that stick around for consecutive years, maybe three or four years.  Those teams are the ones that usually end up winning championships.  I think we are on the right track.”

*Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu said Tuesday he continues to progress after off-season knee surgery. He said he has been walking without crutches for the last 10 days and said he remains optimistic he will be ready for next season. “I just know by the time the season starts my knee will be 100 percent,” Alualu said. “That’s what I’m really excited about.”


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