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Jaguars kick off OTAs

Posted May 15, 2012

Blackmon and Gabbert work together for first time 2012 as OTAs begin without Jones-Drew

Justin Blackmon worked full-speed with the first team.

Blaine Gabbert did, too – and there’s no indication that’s going to change any time soon.

As for Maurice Jones-Drew . . .

Well, Jones-Drew wasn’t at EverBank Field Tuesday, and while Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey would prefer it if he were, he’s not going to worry that he’s not.

Such were the storylines around the Jaguars Tuesday, the first day of 2012 organized team activities and a day on which the Jaguars’ last two first-round draft selections – Gabbert and Blackmon – practiced together for the first time.

It was also a day that Blackmon – a wide receiver from Oklahoma State – shed light on the foot issue that kept him out of the final day of a three-day rookie mini-camp May 4-6.

“It was just sore,” Blackmon said Tuesday afternoon.

Blackmon said the soreness stemmed from wearing cleats that fit poorly during rookie camp. He worked the first three practices of that camp, then sat out the Sunday practice.

Mularkey said at the time the situation wasn’t serious, and Blackmon on Tuesday said the same, adding, “I didn’t want to push it and just get back in.”

“It just happens with new cleats, your feet get sore when you run around a lot,” Blackmon added. “That’s all that happened. You just have to break them in, and when you’re running around full speed they can make your feet a little irritated.”

Blackmon said he went home following mini-camp, rested his feet and returned with cleats he had previously used. As for his future cleat plans, he said, “I’ll break them in probably away from practice when it’s not so full speed.”

Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 Draft, said following a two-hour practice that it was good to finally work with Gabbert, and that he felt good following the first day. He also said he worked at several receiver positions, including the ‘Z’ position and the slot, and that he is just trying to fit into the offense “wherever I can fit.”

Meanwhile, Mularkey on Tuesday clarified recent comments he made in an interview with the NFL Network stating the Jaguars’ quarterback situation was not a competition and that Gabbert was the starting quarterback.

“There’s competition everywhere,” Mularkey said. “Blaine Gabbert’s our starting quarterback, but there’s competition everywhere. That’s been the case since the dawn of time. That’s never going to change. I hope everyone’s here to compete.

“I don’t want people who are comfortable in their role. You have no chance of success if people are comfortable.”

Mularkey said he doesn’t worry about Gabbert being too comfortable because he believes Gabbert wants to be good.

“That was the first impression when I sat down with him in January,” Mularkey said. “If I took anything away from that first half hour that I spent with him it’s that he wants to be good. That’s important.”

Said Gabbert, “I compete every practice. I know perfect isn’t really achievable, but I like to think it is. Everybody knows their role on this football team and you just have to go out there and prove it day in and day out.”

Mularkey also addressed Jones-Drew’s absence from OTAs, saying that although the off-season indeed is voluntary he wishes the Jaguars’ starting running back and the 2011 NFL rushing leader was present.

“It’s all voluntary,” Mularkey said. “I wish he was here. He knows we wish he was here. His teammates have talked to him about it. It’s a personal decision. There’s nothing I can about it. I’m not going to spend a lot of energy worrying about it when it’s not going to help the direction for the guys who are here.

“I want to show a positive energy I have, and I don’t want anything to be a distraction for the guys who are here. He’ll catch up when he comes back.”

Mularkey said while it’s his understanding Jones-Drew is “talking about trying to get an extension for his contract,” he’s not going to spend time worrying about the issue. Mularkey, who has talked several times since taking the Jaguars’ position about learning from mistakes he made in his first tenure as a head coach – in Buffalo from 2004-2005 – said this is another such situation.

“I had a little bit of that,” he said. “I won’t say what particular player or players, but I did. I let the little things that I had no control over suck the energy out of me. Really, at this job you have to have a high energy tank. I’m not going to let that happen.

“You learn there are things you have complete control over and some you don’t. No matter how you worry about it and how you handle it, there’s nothing you can do about it. These guys have to see you up there with positive energy, nothing distracting you from that.”

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