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Training Camp 2019: Ngakoue reports, says "I'm here to play…"

JACKSONVILLE – His message was clear and familiar.

Yannick Ngakoue upon ending his training-camp holdout on Sunday morning said what he said in the offseason before it began:

He wants to play.

And he won't worry about the business of football while he's playing.

"I love football, I love my teammates and I'm here to play games," Ngakoue said shortly after Day 9 practice of 2019 Jaguars Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Flex Field adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.

Ngakoue, a fourth-year defensive end, missed camp's first eight days because he and the Jaguars have yet to agree on a contract extension. A third-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, Ngakoue also missed the Jaguars' three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone, speaking to the media before practice, told reporters the Jaguars were happy to have Ngakoue back with the team.

"He's ready to go, he's in great shape, and we're all together," Marrone said.

Ngakoue reported Sunday without a long-term deal. Unless the sides agree to an extension, he will play on the final year of his rookie contract.

"At the end of the day, they had a chance to sign me for a long-term deal, but it is what it is," Ngakoue said. "At the end of the day, I know my value, I know my worth. That's all I can say."

Ngakoue emphasized he wasn't angry, and that he never considered asking for a trade.

"What's meant to happen is going to happen," he said, adding that he never considered sitting out the season: "I love football. Like I said in the beginning I was going to play regardless."

Ngakoue reportedly could face more than $500,000 in fines for missing minicamp and early training camp. He was asked if he would like the team to rescind the fines now that he has reported.

"I think everybody would," he said, laughing. "We'll see how it goes."

Ngakoue, a Pro Bowl selection following the 2017 season, has registered 29.5 sacks in three seasons. He registered a career-high 12 sacks in 2017 and 9.5 last season after setting the Jaguars' rookie record with eight sacks in 2016.

"It doesn't matter about anybody else knowing my value," Ngakoue said. "I show it each and every year."

If Ngakoue plays for the terms of his rookie contract this season, he essentially will be "betting on himself" to earn a longer-term, more-lucrative deal following the season.

"I bet on myself every season," he said. "I was a third-round pick, underrated. I bet on myself and I'm still here. … I'm in God's hands at the end of the day. I've been playing this game since I was in the sixth grade, so it's in his hands. I can't really worry about the future.

"I just have to go out there and play full speed."

Ngakoue said his motivation remains what it always has been – to be the league's best defensive end – and said his inspiration remains his mother, Marlene Chantelly.

"I think about her every time I take the field," Ngakoue said. "Since I was a baby, I've seen here get up every day at 4 a.m. to make ends meet, and she still does that to this day. That's my motivation."

Marrone during his pre-practice availability reiterated what he said throughout camp – that he never worried about Ngakoue's conditioning or readiness. Ngakoue passed his conditioning test early Sunday and worked full in practice – working immediately with the starters.

"You've got to get the reps, got to knock the rust off," Ngakoue said. "I'm happy they throw me in."

Ngakoue reported to camp early Sunday – around 6:45 – because "I couldn't sleep much longer and had to get in the building," and said he was greeted warmly by teammates upon arrival.

Ngakoue said he remained in regular contact with defensive end Calais Campbell and other defensive line teammates during his holdout. He also said communicated regularly with All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He and Ramsey danced during practice Sunday before the first team drill.

"They were happy," he said. "They were ecstatic. They told me there was a difference with me being here and me being gone. They were supporting me 100 percent."

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