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A non-weighty issue

Posted Apr 12, 2012

Eugene Monroe: 'I'm big and strong and fast enough to perform at a high level'

When it comes to his body, Eugene Monroe figures he knows best.

So, Monroe said while talk about him being too light last season got to be a bit much – “it definitely wore me out,” he said – the Jaguars’ fourth-year left tackle said it’s not something that will make him change his approach.

“Whatever the weight is, I don’ t really care – I’m going to be ready to play,” Monroe said Thursday during the Jaguars’ off-season program, which will continue next week with a voluntary three-day Veteran Orientation at EverBank Field.

“For me, there’s no weight issue.”

Monroe, the Jaguars’ No. 8 overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, reported to camp last season around 290 pounds, and he said during the season that he gained weight and eventually played above 300. His weight was an issue throughout the preseason and early part of the season, enough so that Monroe said Thursday it seemed he was always “hearing it from some angle” and that he did what he had to do “to shut people up.”

“The way it was handled last year, I didn’t really like it,” he said. “I’m going to play, I’m going to train and do what I need to do from a physical standpoint to be at my best on the field. I may have come into camp lighter than what the coaches may have expected, but it wasn’t for any negative reasons.

“It was because I worked my ass off, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Monroe said those who focus on his weight focus on the wrong issue, and that he doesn’t have an ideal weight at which he wants to play.

“I’m big and strong and fast enough to perform at a high level,” he said. “Whether I’m 320, 300 pounds, 285 pounds – it doesn’t matter so long as I’m in shape, which I will be. I’ll be one of the most-conditioned athletes regardless of position.”

Of people who thought he needed to be above a certain weight to play well, Monroe said, “Those people weren’t on the field. Those people weren’t moving defensive linemen off of the ball, like I was. I’m going to come in at whatever weight I come in at, but I will be big and strong and powerful enough and explosive enough and fast enough and conditioned enough to do my job at a high level.”

Monroe also on Thursday said he didn’t buy into a theory offered in some circles that a neck injury he sustained last season was an aftereffect of playing differently because he was too light.

“Injuries happen,” he said. “That has nothing to with what I weighed.”

Monroe said he struggled at times during the preseason, but coaches and many outside analysts believed he overall had his best year in 2011, an assessment with which Monroe said he agrees.

“Looking at film from the second season to the third, it’s almost night and day as far as performance, becoming a well-rounded player,” he said. “That’s going to continue to get better – regardless of someone’s opinion or what someone writes. I’m not competing against anyone but myself. Whatever was said, or has continued to be said, it makes no difference to me.”

Monroe said that improvement can and should continue this season.

“I believe that it will be leaps and bounds on what happened last year,” he said. “That’s going to be my goal as long as I play the game, to improve not just every year, but on a daily basis, and on a play-by-play basis during a game. That’s just how I am.”

Also around the Jaguars Thursday:

*Fourth-year offensive lineman Eben Britton has been cleared to participate in on-field off-season work, and he said while it’s his expectation he will start out at right tackle, his objective is to earn a starting position somewhere. “I’m going to give it my best shot,” Britton said. “I’m going to make it as impossible as I can for the coaches to not let me play. I’m going to be starting, one way or the other. Whatever the coaches do, whatever way I can help the team win, one position or the other. I don’t care how it shakes out.” Britton started his first two seasons at right tackle, then worked at both guard and tackle last season before a back injury that bothered him throughout training camp caused him to be placed on injured reserve in October.

*Britton said he feels great and that his objective now is to “not be stupid” and jeopardize further injury to his back. “There shouldn’t be any setbacks, but you have to work smart,” Britton said, adding that he no longer is doing back squats in training and instead is focused on leg presses to work that area.  “You can get the same amount of work in and strengthen legs the same without compromising back,” he said.

*Quarterback Chad Henne said the dynamics of the Jaguars’ quarterback situation remains positive although he has been brought in to compete with Blaine Gabbert and help him at the same time. “This quarterback room with Blaine and Dan (LeFevour), you can’t have anything better,” Henne said. “As long as that group is toward one goal, helping the team win and not worried about it, it’s going to make everything smoother and help everything out.” Henne said he will enter training camp with the idea of competing for the starting role, and if that doesn’t happen, he will back up Gabbert. “If they like your style and the way you play, they’ll pick you,” Henne said. “If not, you move on. Whatever their choices are, I’m going to be the same person and compete the best I can.” Of Gabbert, “He deserves the chance.”

*Paul Polsusnzy said he remains confident that he is on schedule returning from shoulder surgery shortly after last season. Posluszny sustained the injury in the regular-season finale against Indianapolis, and has rehabilitated since January surgery. He said while he would like to participate in organized team activities, if even on a limited based, but said he expects to be full-go by training camp. “I believe so,” Posluszny said. “I don’t see why I wouldn’t be.”

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