JACKSONVILLE – His circumstance is far from ideal.
That's one thing James Sample will tell you about the fluky injury he sustained last week during Jaguars 2015 Organized Team Activities, an injury expected to keep the rookie out through at least part of training camp.
But while a fractured right arm indeed cut his offseason short, Sample said the positive is he could return well before the regular-season opener September 13.
"Midway through training camp," Sample said Monday, speaking to reporters for the first time since sustaining the injury late in practice on Thursday.
Sample said he is expected to return in 10-to-12 weeks, the early end of which would have him returning about two weeks into training camp, which is scheduled to begin at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields in late July.
Sample's injury came two weeks into an OTA period in which he had played well enough to earn time with the first team. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley had said after Thursday's practice – before the severity of Sample's injury was known – that Sample could work some with the starters this week.
"It would've been great to have him because he was coming along," Bradley said Monday. "Last week I talked about we're going to try and get him some reps up there with the ones, so not to have him in there to get those is unfortunate, but the good news is he'll be back. We'll have him for the season."
Bradley said it's too early to know how far behind the injury could set Sample, noting that cornerback Aaron Colvin missed the offseason, training camp and the first 10 games of the regular season last season as a rookie before playing well in the final six games of the season.
"He stepped in and played," Bradley said of Colvin, adding of Sample, "I think it's yet to be seen what exactly the situation is for him as far as practice or what can he go through – can we do a walkthrough? We'll compete and do everything we can do to at least get him mentally ready."
Bradley said third-year veteran safety Josh Evans – who played free safety the past two seasons – could get more reps at strong safety after working early in OTAs at free safety.
"Now, he (Evans) has to be a swing guy," Bradley said, adding that second-year veteran Craig Loston also will get more reps with Sample injured.
Sample sustained the injury late in last Thursday's practice trying to strip the ball from a tight end.
"It was a normal play on the ball," Sample said. "One of the tight ends caught it and was running up field. I tried to jab at it and his elbow ended up coming down on my forearm. I heard it pop and I knew it was broken.
"I heard the pop, I felt a little pain and I was like, 'Dang, it might be broken.'"
Bradley called the injury a "freak deal" and said he hasn't given thought to scaling back OTA practices. Rookie defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, is out for the season after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament on the first day of rookie camp in early May.
"I think the practices have been really good," Bradley said. "You want to keep teaching them how to practice. During the season … we have to go no pads and we want to get things out of it, so we have to learn to practice with one another and the tempo we're going to create. I think that's what we're talking about, trying to set that in OTAs and for next season."
Sample, a fourth-round selection from the University of Louisville, had been working at the team's free safety position along with Sergio Brown, a six-year veteran who signed as an unrestricted free agent in early March. Brown, also a front-line special teams player, had entered the offseason as the likely starter at the position.
"That's the only knock," Sample said. "I actually got in touch with my Dad. He had seen Coach Gus had said something about it (working with the first team). That's the only downer. Now, I've got to get mentally prepared, come back and watch more film and be in my playbook a little more.
"I'm willing to accept the challenge."
Sample said he had a couple of screws and a plate inserted into the area. His most serious previous injury was a torn labrum in his right shoulder during his freshman season at the University of Washington in 2011.
"It's nothing new," Sample said. "I've just got to stay consistent and come back better."
Sample said he felt the first two weeks of OTAs had gone well.
"I felt like I was improving each week," Sample said. "I felt like I was getting better and playing faster. I look at it like a new challenge. Now, I have to compete against myself and against my body each day, to rehab better and better. That's what I'm looking forward to."
Sample played just one season at Louisville after transferring from American River College (California). He arrived at Louisville shortly before the season began and was credited with learning the defense quickly. He said Monday that experience should help in his current situation.
"I think it will help me a lot," Sample said. "I've been picking up this defense pretty fast. That allowed me to play faster and get the reps with the ones that I would have got this week."