This season is almost a carbon copy of last year for Todd Fordham. Again, he has an opportunity to prove he can play this game. If he does, that's where the parallel will end.
Following an impressive late-season performance at right tackle, after replacing an injured Zach Wiegert, Fordham shopped himself in the free-agent market, signing with the Denver Broncos for slightly more money than the Jaguars were offering.
He found out the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. He won't make the same mistake.
"It's hard to leave a place you're used to. I thought it was a great opportunity in Denver. I can't say I regret it because I learned a lot about myself. I learned the painted picture isn't always what you get. There's not a whole lot of difference. I learned a lot about what this business is all about," Fordham said.
He was signed by the Broncos to be their starting right tackle. At the time, the Broncos had just signed Matt Lepsis to a big contract, and they planned to move Lepsis from right tackle to left.
Following mini-camp, Lepsis told the Broncos he wanted to move back to his former position. Immediately, Fordham's job security was in jeopardy, and he was released by the Broncos in final cuts.
"You're going to hear what you want to hear when you're in a free-agent market. They're going to tell you what you want to hear, but if it doesn't work out for them, don't expect any favors," Fordham said.
Fordham is in a one-year contract with the Jaguars. That's not exactly an example of job security, but the Jaguars' salary cap situation would make Fordham very attractive to the team, as long as he proves he can still play.
The Jaguars are going to be looking for capable minimum-wage players with no amortization. Fordham would be the "poster child." All he needs to do is prove he is capable, and he's getting a great opportunity against some of the best pass-rushers in the game.
Since replacing Tony Boselli at left tackle, which is not Fordham's natural position, he has faced Michael McCrary and Jevon Kearse. This Sunday, he goes up against Bengals' first-round pick Justin Smith, then it'll be Joey Porter in Pittsburgh before recycling with McCrary.
"I'll tell you, it's fun being me," Fordham joked. "I'm doing some decent things. I've got to do better, but playing against guys like you just mentioned, it's tough to be perfect. It's a lot different over there on the right side. Those things used to come natural, and I've got to make them come natural on the left side."
If he succeeds, he's almost certain to be offered a new contract by the Jaguars, and this time Fordham won't look for greener grass.