Clint Ingram is fully recovered from two troubled seasons and appears headed for a contract year that will fulfill the promise he showed as a rookie in 2006.
"Clint has had a tremendous spring," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I think the linebackers have been the strongest on our football team this spring; best group this spring."
Ingram's energy has been easy to see. He flashed it in Monday's practice by closing on tight end Marcedes Lewis and breaking up a pass, which caused an exchange of words. Usually, where Ingram goes, tensions increase. He has that effect on offensive players.
It was the playing personality he exhibited as a rookie in '06, when he grabbed headlines by roughing up Tom Brady. It's the kind of player he's always been. He was the most-feared player on the Oklahoma roster when he played there.
"This is my first offseason healthy, so I've really gotten into the squats and explosion exercises. I can be more sudden," Ingram said when asked why he appears to be more forceful this spring than he was the previous two years.
Ingram sustained a significant ankle injury in the 2007 offseason. It dogged him through the whole year and when the season was over he underwent ankle surgery.
Recovery from the surgery was made more difficult by the tragedy his best friend on the team, Richard Collier, suffered at the start of last season. Ingram's ankle was weak and his heart was broken and it wasn't until late last season that he began to show recovery from each.
"He's doing good; same old Rich," Ingram said of his friend. "He's got a lot of people calling him to be a motivational speaker. He's getting married."
Ingram is in a contract year, which means the 2009 season will determine much about his future in professional football. Playing well has never been more important.
"I've got high expectations for myself; making plays and being a leader," Ingram said.
He's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent next March, but Ingram's hope is that he'll play well enough this season to cause the Jaguars to offer him a new contract before the season is complete.
"This is what raised me. I'd love to be here. I hope I can get something worked out here," he said.
"I see a real fast defense and a young defense," he added. "If we continue on the pace we're on, we'll be a dominating defense."
The first-team defense was dominant against the first-team offense during a two-minute drill on Monday. Safety Sean Considine intercepted a pass and the offense failed to gain a first down.
Guard Vince Manuwai participated in practice for the first time this spring. His recovery from ACL surgery last September would appear to be on track for Manuwai to achieve his goal of being fully recovered for the start of training camp.
"He's been cleared (to practice)," Del Rio said of Manuwai. "We're happy about that. He's really worked hard. He's excited he has his weight in line at this time of the offseason. I guarantee Maurice (Jones-Drew) is happy. When you bring Vinny back, you bring back a Pro Bowl-caliber guard."