JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' roster is filled with young talent, but upon closer inspection you'll find a veteran or two brought in by Head Coach Urban Meyer to play a critical role.
Linebacker Damien Wilson is a run-and-hit guy – and when you transition to a base 3-4 defense, you need lots of linebackers. If they're run-and-hit guys, all the better.
Wilson, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs this past offseason, on Tuesday called the Jaguars' defense a linebacker-friendly scheme – and said his versatility has helped him transition to the scheme.
"Over the last six years, I've played Sam, Will and Mike (strong-side, weak-side and middle linebacker)," Wilson said Tuesday following Day 6 practice of Jaguars 2021 Training Camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. "I feel like there's really nothing that I can't do from a linebacker perspective, so it has been fairly easy."
Wilson certainly fits the mold of an inside linebacker in the scheme the team will run under defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. He's powerfully built, and through the first week of camp has been in position to make plays in every drill.
On Tuesday, the pads came on and it was the same story with No. 54 flashing play after play.
So, Wilson can play, and he fits in Cullen's scheme. Check those boxes. But that isn't all Meyer wanted from the six-year veteran who learned what it takes to be a champion the last two seasons in Kansas City.
"You guys are going to see when we come out for that first game against Houston," he said. "Coach has said it a few times now. We're not here to be a runner-up or just compete for the division title. Everyone here wants to win a championship. That's why we're here. That's what we're playing for."
But what about a team that was 1-15 a season ago? Isn't that expectation for this team unrealistic with a rookie quarterback and a coach making the transition to professional football?
"I see guys all over the field out there that want to win," said Wilson, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs following the 2019 season and made a second consecutive trip to the big game in January of this past season. "We've got the talent and we've got the coaching, so now all we have to get is the experience – which only comes from live bullets.
"Maybe we can get some of that in the preseason or maybe it takes the first game, but I do believe we can really cause some damage. Our goal is a championship."
Marvin Jones Jr., a wide receiver who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Detroit Lions this past offseason, was brought in to perform on the field and in the meeting room. The 32-year-old Jones is entering his 10th NFL season, and has averaged 77 catches and six touchdowns with the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals. He's in terrific shape, has made plays all over the field during camp – and understands what it takes to last as long as he has in professional football. "It takes a lot of stretching," Jones said. "And if you see that I have a tight blue band on at all times, it's because I have to keep my hips right. The sun is also great for me. If it's hot, I really like it because it keeps my joints warm, so I don't have to warm up as much. It's just the preparation. I have a formula that I do every offseason and training camp and during the season that works, and I still feel like I'm in year one … when I do that."
Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw arguably his best pass of training camp on Tuesday – this one to Jones up the seam between two defenders, timed perfectly into Jones' hands. "That play you are talking about, in between two defenders … a lot of young cats, they don't do that," Jones said. "Him having that confidence in me and us having that relationship … I think all of that pays off. He wants to be aggressive, and I do not mind."
Jones was comfortable Tuesday discussing contract season Jaguars fourth-year wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. is about to enter, making it clear he wants to be a resource for Chark on and off the field. "We have those conversations, definitely," Jones said. "He is doing well. He is a playmaker. I came in and I told him anything that I can do to help get you going in this offense faster, I am going to do that. Just follow me and it is going to be real good for you in March."