JACKSONVILLE – You can't blame Jamal Agnew if he hesitates when asked his position.
Agnew, a fifth-year veteran who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March, entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback with the Detroit Lions in 2017. He quickly transitioned to a returner – and an All-Pro returner at that.
He mixed in a little running back before adding wide receiver to his resume before the 2020 season.
"I call myself an athlete out there," he said with a laugh Thursday before Day 16 Jaguars 2021 Training Camp practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. "They always say the more you can do, right? Last year in Detroit they had two or three corners go down and I was like, 'I can still play corner if you need me.'
"It's always about creating value."
The Jaguars hope to get as much value from Agnew in his first year in Jacksonville as the Lions did during his first season in Detroit. The 5-feet-10, 190-pound athlete led the NFL in punt return yards, punt return average and scored two punt return touchdowns as a rookie in 2017 and was voted first-team All-Pro.
He added kickoff returns in 2018, and by 2019 was the only player in the NFL that season to score a touchdown as a punt returner and a kickoff returner. The Jaguars jumped to sign Agnew when he hit the market and the feeling was mutual.
"Honestly, from the day I met him (Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer), he made it clear that he was going to be hands on with special teams," Agnew said. "He has an extensive background with special teams and that's what made me want to come here the most, how he values special teams. I've played special teams my whole career, so that was a no-brainer for me.
"He hasn't backed down from what he said since Day One and he's extremely hands on. If you see him out at practice, he's in there showing guys how to kick slide on punt. He's back there doing everything, and I love that."
You likely won't see much of Agnew until the regular season. The coaching staff knows what he can do and won't put a player at risk in a preseason game unnecessarily. But for a player who made the Lions final roster as a rookie because of special teams it seems strange to stand and watch.
"I don't even see it as that (that he's a lock to make the roster) to be honest with you," he said. "I'm always competing. That's what I was taught my rookie year: Every day you have to come in and compete with everyone else on the roster, but also 31 other teams out there looking for spots to fill and everything, so I just look at it like that every day."
Agnew would like to stay the Jaguars' version of the Swiss Army Knife and do a little bit of everything. He told the media Thursday he is still in the process of becoming a wide receiver – and despite a highly- regarded receivers' coach in Sanjay Lal, he is taking the coaching into his own hands. "I learn best just watching other guys," Agnew said. "I see how they move, how they come out of the breaks and I just try and apply what I can to my game. I transitioned last year and didn't get much of an offseason because of Covid. I was really just teaching myself, watching film, watching guys like Doug Baldwin on YouTube. I was really teaching myself, but I learn the best hands on, so I watch and try and apply everything I see to my game."
Safety Jarrod Wilson is a Michigan man through and through. Meyer was the head coach at Ohio State when the Buckeyes handled the Wolverines with some measure of ease. Apparently, the rivalry is alive and well on the practice fields. "That's all the time," Wilson said when asked if Meyer has anything to say about one of college football's biggest games played each season. "I'm always going to stand up for the Blue whenever he comes around." Despite never beating Meyer during his years in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wilson was eager to get to know the new head coach. "I'm just excited to be around a winner," he said. "I know what he brings to the table from the outside but being on the inside with him every day to learn his approach and his mindset has been pretty cool."