Danny Clark wants to win a starting linebacker job, but it may be his versatility that will allow him to win a roster spot.
Clark has made a position switch in each of the three mini-camps this spring. In April, Clark worked at middle linebacker. In May, Clark moved to strongside linebacker. This month, Clark will showcase his talents at weakside linebacker.
"Today was the first day at 'Will' (weakside linebacker) and I enjoyed it. It's all about running to the ball," Clark said following Monday's workout in this week's "passing camp."
This would be the season that would launch Clark into unrestricted free agency. In his fourth season with the Jaguars, Clark has one of those one-year contracts that challenges young pros to prove they're worth something more than minimum wage.
"That means that I have to somehow, someway get on the field this year and set the stage for my second contract," Clark said.
But first Clark has to prove he's capable of playing the kind of defense head coach Jack Del Rio wants to instill in the Jaguars. That means Clark has to prove he has the speed and aggressiveness to be a disruptive force at linebacker.
"We're going to look at combinations and utilize the talent we have; find the best three to start and the next-best three to backup," Del Rio said of the linebacker situation.
Del Rio will keep six linebackers and Clark is part of a group of veterans that includes Mike Peterson, Keith Mitchell, Akin Ayodele, T.J. Slaughter, Eric Westmoreland, Joe Tuipala and Bobby Brooks.
"He's in the mix," Del Rio said of Clark, a seventh-round pick in 2000 who became a starter late in the 2001 season and was in the starting lineup for all 16 games last season. "He has an opportunity to compete. He seems to be more comfortable outside. He's working hard and picking up the system and doing everything we ask," Del Rio added.
Clark received limited attention in restricted free agency this spring. Green Bay and Detroit expressed interest.
"I think this is going to be the best situation for me anyway," Clark said. "I'm excited about it. I think I have a good chance to contribute on this ballteam. I'm looking to be a starter, but I can definitely be a role player as well."
Meanwhile, Del Rio was pleased by the overall performance by his team in this morning's workout. "I thought today was a much crisper day. (Kevin) Lockett made some nice catches. Jimmy Redmond has shown some flashes. We're trying to make that position as competitive as possible," Del Rio said of wide receiver.
To that end, Del Rio said it's expected Donald Hayes will return to practice next week, following a knee sprain in the May mini-camp.