JACKSONVILLE – This is fun for Andrew Wingard. Really fun.
Not just being in the NFL, though that's always fun for the Jaguars' fourth-year safety.
No, what's really, really fun for Wingard is what's happening around the Jaguars these days. A good feeling. A promising future. Wingard – team leader, key role player, special teams ace – has waited for those things for a while. Now that they're here, he's enjoying them. Big-time.
"Last year was what it was; I won't go any deeper into that," Wingard said recently, "but I really rekindled my love for football this year."
Wingard, who originally signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft, joined senior writer for this 2022 Week 13 O-Zone Podcast. He discussed multiple topics, including his overall approach to the NFL.
"I pride myself on being a football player: 100 percent," Wingard said. "I will do whatever it takes to play football. I will do whatever it takes to get paid at something I'm good at. That's real. A lot of guys kind of say, 'I'm a corner,' or, 'I'm a safety,' or, 'I'm this or that.'
"A lot of guys don't want to block guys on kickoff return or play on punt. Those guys don't play 10-to-12 years in the league. This is my dream job. It's awesome. I can't think of anything better to do. I'm blessed and lucky to be in this position and I'm not going to have a single regret.
"I'll go to my grave saying, 'I gave everything I had and whatever my role was, I did it willingly and to the best of my ability.'''
Wingard also discussed his rekindled love for the game, and how Head Coach Doug Pederson has helped that – and everything around the organization.
"You know he's doing something right when you're excited to come in and practice," Wingard said. "It's like, 'Do I really want to practice in Week 12?' Yes. Because I know what I do on Wednesday, what I do on Thursday and what I do on Friday is what wins football games.
"That's something that's hard to grasp as a young player. As you gain experience you're like, 'That rings a bell with me.' That's really what he preaches – the preparation, the process and staying together.''
And make no mistake: Wingard, like many Jaguars players, absolutely believes the Jaguars' momentum from winning two of the past three games is something that will carry forward.
"He has stayed consistent in his message, and he never panicked," Wingard said of Pederson. "You're starting to see the fruit of the labor creeping its head out. When you gain momentum, then stuff really starts to go your way. I love the guy. Everything he preaches, he does. Guys really buy into him."
Click below to listen to the entire O-Zone Podcast with Wingard. To listen to more O-Zone Podcast episodes, click here.