JACKSONVILLE – Chris Clemons practiced with the Jaguars on Tuesday.
That was news on Day One of 2015 mandatory minicamp because it's the first time the Jaguars' starting Leo/defensive end has done so this offseason, but Clemons said it's far from unusual.
"For the last … what, four years? … I haven't been to an offseason," Clemons said Tuesday following a two-hour-plus practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.
"That's the way I prepare myself during the offseason."
Clemons, a 12-year veteran, was the only uninjured Jaguars player who didn't participate in the team's organized team activities, a three-week, nine-practice period of on-field work that ran through last Thursday. OTAs are voluntary under NFL rules, with this week's minicamp the only mandatory on-or off-field offseason work for players.
"We had a good conversation about where he's at, what he needs to do," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said of Clemons. "We talked about his conditioning, where he needs to be and that we're going to challenge him this whole minicamp."
Clemons also missed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the team's offseason program in late April and early May. OTAs and minicamp make up Phase 3 of an NFL team's offseason.
"Knowledge of the scheme and things like that, he's not behind, but reps, yeah, he's missed some OTAs and he missed some Phase Two, but his learning curve will be quick; he'll get it back," Bradley said. "I don't care what you say – you can be out on your own and you can work out – it's different from when you come practice with a team in a controlled environment like this. It's just different and he's got to get acclimated to that."
Clemons said Bradley and defensive line coach Todd Wash understand his offseason approach. Clemons played for Bradley in 2010-2012 Bradley was the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Wash was the defensive line coach for Seattle in 2011-2012.
"Gus and I both know that – we talk about it in the offseason every year," Clemons said. "Even when I was in Seattle, I did the same thing. That's the way I prepare myself. That's the way the coaches know me to prepare. That's the way I come and get my job done.
"My teammates understand it. I respect all my teammates and treat them all the same. They treat me the same whether I'm here or whether I'm there I'm still in contact with them, so there's nothing different."
Clemons participated in three OTA practices and three minicamp practices last offseason.
"There really wasn't a difference," Clemons said. "That's my way of preparing for the season – to get out and focus on myself. I can't be a great asset to the team unless I'm good to myself. That's the way I've prepared for the last five years of my career."
Clemons, who registered eight sacks last season in his first season with the Jaguars, said he reported to minicamp at 248 pounds. That's 17 pounds lighter than he played much of last season, when he was second on the team in sacks after signing with the Jaguars after his offseason release from Seattle.
"Last year, coming off the Super Bowl run (with Seattle), I was like 265," Clemons said, adding that he played at 255 and 260 at times last season. "I feel great. Going out on there on the grass with the fellas was a great feeling. I didn't have any problems. My body feels better than it did last year."
Clemons said the weight loss was about "being able to focus on what he needed to focus on."
"Last year I was coming from an ACL injury," said Clemons, who played 2013 with Seattle after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the previous postseason. "This year I came from a season that was healthy, so it helped me be able to focus more on myself instead of worrying about doing rehab and being around doctors all offseason."
Clemons, who said he has played as light as 245 during his NFL career, said he felt his productivity dropped a bit last season because of the weight.
"That was my thing this year – to come back a little lighter and leaner so I can go out and play better than what I did last year," Clemons said. "It's a great thing for me. I'm just getting ready for the season."
The Jaguars drafted Dante Fowler Jr. No. 3 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Fowler was expected to have played extensively at the Leo position, but he sustained a season-ending ACL injury on the first day of 2015 rookie minicamp.
"It was a great thing when we drafted him," Clemons said. "I knew he would be a big asset to us on the field. I was excited when they drafted him. Coach had told me they were going to draft him leading up to the draft. …
"He was one of the best defensive players in the draft, so why not bring him in? For him to get hurt was unfortunate."
Clemons said he can handle a heavier load if Fowler's absence means he must play more.
"That's the reason I train the way I train in the offseason – by myself so I can focus on myself," Clemons said.
The Jaguars completed the first day of 2015 mandatory minicamp on a scorching hot day in Jacksonville.