Austen Lane summed up the end of his 2011 season in succinct fashion.
"It sucked," he said, laughing.
That's how the Jaguars' defensive end this week described spending much of his second NFL season on injured reserve after entering it with far bigger goals.
But if the 2011 season was about disappointment and frustration, the third-year veteran said this off-season is about hope. The shoulder that put him on injured reserve 10 weeks last season has healed and he recently was cleared to participate in the team's on-field portion of the off-season.
That begins next week at EverBank Field, and when it does, Lane said he will resume the objective he had early last season – developing from a solid, depth-providing reserve into a key member of the end rotation.
To do that, Lane said that means improving as a pass rusher.
Lane, selected in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, started the final nine games of his rookie season and registered 13 quarterback pressures with no sacks. This past season, he started one game and had three pressures and a sack in six games.
"I think when I was drafted I was brought in here to get after the quarterback a little bit and that's something I'll tell you right now I haven't done too well," Lane said. "That's something I'm going to train in this offseason – obviously watch film and get better with that."
Lane, one of a slew of Jaguars players who will be getting in their first on-field work next week after finishing last season on injured reserve, also said he wants to tone down his aggressiveness a bit. That means playing more under control, which he said isn't easy for him.
"If it's a play-action pass and I think it's run right away, I just get into my guy and try to dominate him instead of reacting to it," Lane said. "That's something I've been watching a lot of film on. That's something that comes with time."
And while there are those who believe the Jaguars must draft a player at his position in the 2012 NFL Draft in April, Lane said he's not thinking about such things.
"Only thing I can control is how hard I can go out there and work every day and get better," he said. "That's what I'm going to do, whether we draft a defensive end in the first round or whatever. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but either way it's not going to affect the way I train, not going to affect the way I go into the film room and whatever happens, happens.
"You have to go in there thinking you're going to win the job. Obviously you've got to have that mentality where you want to go in and be the starter, but at the same time if they need me some place else wherever they want to put me I will play. I'm just excited to be back."
Also around the Jaguars this week:
*Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said while the Jaguars' defense ranked sixth in the NFL last season, the unit can improve in areas such as forcing turnovers and making critical stops late in games. He said in several games, such as a Week 3 loss at Carolina, the defense had a chance late to get a game-winning stop, and did not. "That's more important, winning," he said. "That's much more important than saying, 'We're a Top 10 defense.'''
*Right tackle Eben Britton and left tackle Eugene Monroe each said they were glad offensive line coach Andy Heck was retained from last year's staff. Heck, who will enter his ninth season with the Jaguars and his seventh as the offensive line coach, was the only position coach on offense retained from last year's staff. "I think all of the guys love and respect Andy and love playing for him," Britton said, with Monroe adding, "Having the same guy there to work with us the past few years is exciting. I'm glad to have him back."
*A topic among players this past week remained the atmosphere around EverBank Field following the hiring of Head Coach Mike Mularkey in January. "I think we will get a much better feel after this first minicamp," Posluszny said. "You can definitely tell there are things that are different from last year with the way we are running things. The weight room has changed, the coaching staff has changed. So there is a different feel. Any time you have that, I think it's positive. It's a positive change. We didn't do everything we wanted to do last year. We needed to make a change and we are heading in the right direction now." Added Monroe, "It's apparent around the building. It's apparent around the city. Just going out, going grocery shopping, everyone asks, 'What do you think of the new owner (Shad Khan)?' How are things down at the stadium? I'm excited to see you guys on the field this year.'''