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It's time for training camp

Posted Jul 23, 2012

Head Coach Mike Mularkey looks ahead to 2012 Jaguars Training Camp

Mike Mularkey says he and the Jaguars will approach this week the only way possible.

They’ll prepare for training camp, and when practices begin Friday at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields, they’ll begin the process of preparing for the 2012 season. If Maurice Jones-Drew is there, that’s ideal.

If not, training camp will go on as planned, and preparation will, too.

“There’s nothing else you can do about it, other than waste energy on it, and conversations and time,” Mularkey said Monday afternoon at EverBank Field.

“It’s useless to do that, and I’m just not going to do it.”

As he prepares for his first training camp as Jaguars head coach, Mularkey said the emphasis won’t be on any one player, but on a roster that he said has as productive and efficient an offseason as he imagined possible.

There was an excitement and energy around EverBank Field throughout the offseason, and Mularkey said he expects the energy level to be more heightened in training camp.

"The offseason, you know there’s nothing you’re prepping for,” he said. “Now, you know there’s a preseason game. It’s just different. There’s a lot more tension and a little more anxiety. With the roster at 90, there are a lot of guys who won’t be here when it’s over with.

“I always say the NFL season is like whitewater rafting. You can go down the same river 50 different times, and it’s 50 different rides. It’s never the same ride.”

Mularkey, preparing for his 28th training camp as an NFL player, assistant or head coach, said all players on the Jaguars roster were sent information detailing the training camp schedule. Included in that information was Thursday’s reporting date, with practices scheduled to begin Friday with a 9:45 a.m. walkthrough.

Mularkey said all players returned a form stating they understood the schedule.

That included Jones-Drew, the NFL’s leading rusher a year ago and a Pro Bowl selection the past three seasons. Jones-Drew did not attend the team’s offseason program, and he was the only player who opted to not participate in the team’s mandatory mid-July minicamp.

Jones-Drew has said little about the situation publicly, but Mularkey and Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith have said Jones-Drew wants to renegotiate his contract, which has two years remaining.

Smith said in June the Jaguars do not plan to renegotiate.

Jones-Drew, who rushed for a franchise-record 1,606 yards last season, has not publicly indicated if he plans to be in camp on time, but Mularkey said Wednesday he has no reason to believe Jones-Drew won’t be in town Thursday.

“We talked about it this morning (in a staff meeting),” Mularkey said. “We said, ‘Have you heard of somebody not showing up?’ Everyone said, ‘No, we all think they’re going to be here.’ It is what it is.”

Mularkey, who said throughout the offseason he wanted to handle potential distractions differently than he might have during his previous head coaching stint in Buffalo in 2004-2005, said the approach with Jones-Drew is part of that.

“I certainly have handled it much better this time around,” Mularkey said.

Jones-Drew is one of three players whose status remains an issue as camp approaches. The team also has yet to reach contract agreements with rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon and punter Bryan Anger. It seems likely that Anger’s situation would be resolved by training camp, while Blackmon’s situation could be more complicated because of an arrest for driving under the influence in June.

Mularkey said Blackmon’s performance in the offseason improved significantly following the incident.

“I thought he stood out more in the practices that followed,” Mularkey said. “Whether he was studying more, taking care of himself better at night – I don’t know what it was. But I could certainly tell he had better days and he had more consistent days back to back.

“There were days (early in the offseason) he was frustrated and we were frustrated because he had mental lapses that other guys weren’t having even though he had more reps. You could just tell he was not spending time out of this building. I think that may have hit home after the incident.

“Sometimes you have to have a negative happen for a positive to come about. When he left here (in mid-June), it was going in a good direction.”

Also Monday:

*Mularkey said most of the players limited during all or parts of the offseason likely will begin training camp limited so their progress can be monitored. Those players included defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee), defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (eye), cornerback Rashean Mathis (knee), middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (shoulder), linebacker Clint Session (head), defensive end John Chick (knee) and cornerback Ashton Youbouty (knee). “There will be some others,” Mularkey said. “We’ll discuss who we want to monitor and make sure we get through a complete season. We’ll be smart with our guys. It’s different now. You can’t afford to put players at risk.”

*Mularkey said he is anxious to see Knighton’s weight when he reports. Knighton and Mularkey each said Knighton’s weight stayed under control in the offseason following Knighton’s emergency eye surgery in April. The fourth-year defensive tackle reported overweight each of the past two seasons. “He was given a weight when we left in June, and that will say a lot about his approach this year,” Mularkey said, adding that Knighton’s status pertaining to the eye will be determined later in the week.

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