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The right time to ask

Posted May 29, 2012

Mularkey on rookie WR Justin Blackmon: "When he knows what he’s doing, he’s very good."

Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon says he’s not a guy who minds asking questions. Mike Mularkey would like to see him keep asking more.

Blackmon, a first-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, is spending the ongoing organized team activities learning a new offense, and Mularkey – the Jaguars’ head coach – said because of Blackmon’s projected role, he’s learning a huge amount of information in a very short time.

He also has had far more on-field opportunities than the rest of the rookie class, and Mularkey said there have been plenty of times Blackmon has looked very good.

“When he knows it, it’s pretty good stuff,” Mularkey said Tuesday during OTAs, which will continue for the Jaguars through Friday.

But Mularkey on Tuesday said if there is an area where Blackmon can improve, it’s asking questions during practice.

“The one thing I tell players the very first day, ‘If you’re unclear of what to do when you come out of the huddle, please don’t go to the line of scrimmage without knowing what to do,’’’ Mularkey said. “That’s not a good thing. I would prefer you say, ‘Hey, I’m not sure what to do’ and ask so the play doesn’t get totally blown out of proportion.

“I’d much admire and respect a player that doesn’t know what he’s got and turns around and asks than I do a guy that walks out there and stands at the line of scrimmage or he’s in a three-point and doesn’t know what to do. Like I said, he’s had more opportunities than the other rookies. Three times the amount of reps.

“He’s not the only one, but those are things I think he can get better at and he will.”

Asked if Blackmon stops and asks, Mularkey said, “Not enough.”

“I think some guys are prideful,” Mularkey said. “They think by the time the ball snaps I will have figured out what I’ve got. Unfortunately we’re such a high-tempo team and offense that he doesn’t have a lot of time to think so you don’t know when you come out of the huddle. Again, we’ve told everybody that same thing.”

Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the draft, spoke to the media a few minutes before Mularkey and said he feels good about OTAs, and how he is progressing.

“I’m starting to feel real comfortable with the offense,” he said.

Blackmon played under offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen at Oklahoma State in 2010, and offensive coordinator Todd Monken in 2011, and said he is comfortable learning a new system.

“I went through a couple of different offenses, so some were real simple, and some were complex like the one we have here,” he said. “It’s just a process from different terminology and getting different things down.”

Blackmon also said the veterans have been helpful during his first few weeks, and that he has talked a lot with players such as Laurent Robinson, Lee Evans and Mike Thomas.

“Every time we’re out there, we’re constantly communicating,” he said. “They’re trying to make it as easy for me as they can, but we’re all learning. It’s new for all of us and the best thing we can do is communicate and help each other out.

“They’ve told me a lot. I could probably write a book on everything I was told.”

Mularkey said Blackmon and all rookies will have ample time to learn the offense, and that he’s never had an issue with rookies not getting it before training camp. The offense will be installed again at veteran mini-camp in mid-June, Mularkey said, and rookies will be at the facility after that and before training camp working with position coaches.

“When the vets leave they have two more weeks here so the rookies really have a lot more time here than people realize,” Mularkey said. “A lot of it really is individualized coaching at a very comfortable pace. You really can’t have any team segments because you don’t have enough players, so that will be beneficial for all the rookies.”

Mularkey also stressed several times that he’s not worried about Blackmon not grasping the offense.

“When he knows what he’s doing he’s very good, and when he doesn’t he’s lost,” Mularkey said. “He’s more frustrated at that situation that he hasn’t grasped it as fast as he would like to but there’s a definite difference between knowing it and not knowing it. There are two different speeds. He’s had a ton thrown at him. He’s been put in there more than anybody else so he’s had more chances to have mistakes, but I think he knows our feelings on it.

“We do a lot of things offensively and we do them very well. We’re not going to accept anything less. I think he puts a lot of pressure on himself as well to do it right.”

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