JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five takeaways from Day One of Jaguars 2015 Organized Team Activities …
1.Lasting impact.Not that we didn't know Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks was a class act, but over the past few weeks, he has shown it yet again. Marks on Tuesday afternoon spoke to the media about several topics, but most memorably he discussed the death this past weekend of Khameyea Jennings. Marks escorted Jennings, an 18-year-old cancer patient, to her senior prom earlier this month. While that made national headlines, Marks said at the time the experience for him went well beyond a standard player appearance. Marks was visibly moved Tuesday discussing Jennings' passing, saying, "People say it was brave, what I did. What the hell did I do that was brave? I was happy that she accepted my request to actually enter her life at that stage. It put a perspective on me. We're in this business. It's entertainment. A lot of people hold their heads high. Why glorify me running around on the field when she's struggling, she's hurting? She's brave, being in that situation and hearing, "Hey, you have this … hey, it came back …. This is what it can lead to.' How do you come to comfort like that in your mind? I was just happy she allowed me to do that and it taught me a lot."
2.Much ado …For the second consecutive year, the main Day One story during Jaguars OTAs was the absence of defensive end Chris Clemons. And for a second consecutive year, the reality is Clemons' absence is very much within NFL rules and likely won't be much of a story come training camp. Clemons, who signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Jaguars last offseason, was the only healthy player among the Jaguars' 90 players who opted not to participate Tuesday. That makes his absence news, but while Head Coach Gus Bradley said he would prefer Clemons attend, he also said he knew this was a distinct possibility with the 12-year veteran. Versions of the bottom line of this story were voiced by both Bradley and Marks Tuesday: as long as Clemons shows up in shape and ready in August – which historically has been the case – then it's his right to approach the offseason how he pleases.
3.Head high. Marcedes Lewis won't say this offseason has been easy. He will say he has accepted his situation and is excited about the possibilities. Lewis, a 10-year veteran tight end and longtime starter, restructured his contract last month in the wake of the Jaguars signing fifth-year veteran tight end Julius Thomas as a high-profile unrestricted free agent. "I've been blessed," Lewis said. "It was unfortunate I had some injuries the last couple of years. I'd get off to good starts and then some injuries would kind of hold me back. I understand from a business standpoint; I'm a businessman myself so I get it. … It's inevitable that I think about it, but at the end of the day, that's what we do. I'm here paid to do a job. I've had a chance to come in here and do some good things over the years and I'm looking forward to doing the same thing. " With Thomas expected to be integral to the passing offense, many expect Lewis' role to be more as a run blocker and complementary player. "Nothing changes inside here," Lewis said, pointing to his chest. "Whatever they see fit, that's what I'll be doing. It's still early. When we get pads on, we'll figure that out, too." Lewis said he absolutely wanted to remain in Jacksonville. "No question," he said. "It's not always greener on the other side."
4.Gus reaction.Bradley likes the NFL's recent rule change regarding extra points, but he's not sure it will have a huge game-day impact. "I think it places the value on kicking more now," Bradley of last week's rule change to move extra-point snaps for one-point conversion kicks from the two to the 15-yard line. "I think this heightens it more now, so I think it's a good thing." But if the rule was designed to encourage coaches to go for two more often, Bradley said he's not sure that will happen. Two-point conversions will still be run from the two-yard line. Comparing that to a 33-yard field goal, Bradley said, "The percentages are still highly in favor of kicking it … I would venture to say more teams would kick the extra point still because of the higher percentage."
Take a look at images from the Jaguars first day of OTAs held on Tuesday, May 26.
5.Run to win.The Jaguars finished the 2014 season ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing. Still, Bradley has said more than once this offseason the run offense will be an emphasis next season. He reiterated that Tuesday, saying while the team had a run period in 11-on-11 drills last year there's more of an emphasis this offseason. "There is a heavier emphasis in run game even in our individual (drills) using the garbage cans and things like that that are out there," Bradley said. "I think the players would feel a stronger commitment to the run game."