CLOSER AND CLOSER
Paul Posluszny is making the progress he wants this off-season.
The Jaguars' starting middle linebacker returned to practice Tuesday, working in the starting lineup on the first day of organized team activities. He spoke with the media following Wednesday's practice, and said while he has not yet been cleared for contact, his shoulder "feels great."
Posluszny underwent shoulder surgery in January after sustaining an injury in the regular-season finale against the Colts.
"As far as working out, being functional, the strength, the stability – everything is back," he said. "I'm still not allowed to be in contact, but other than that, it feels great. It feels normal to me."
Posluszny, the Jaguars' leading tackler last season, said building up to contact is the final phase in his rehabilitation, and he has said repeatedly he expects to be ready when training camp opens.
"We'll try to simulate different positions, being in contact, hitting sleds – but everything in a controlled environment," he said. "We'll continue to progress."
While speaking to the media Wednesday, Posluszny said he hopes to be quicker off the snap this season. He said it wasn't something he did as well as he could last season, and that he would like to improve his "eye discipline" in that area.
"It's a little thing," he said, "but it can have a big impact."
Second-year offensive guard Will Rackley said the difference in him as a player from this time last year to now is substantial.
Rackley, a third-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft from Lehigh, said trying to adapt to the NFL last August at the beginning of training camp "was like learning football all over again."
"Now, I have a base going into this season, so it's completely different," he said.
Rackley, who started 14 games last season, said he believes this year's rookies will benefit from what last year's class didn't have – an off-season program.
"Last year, my head was spinning," he said. "I wish we'd had it last year."
WHAT MIKE MULARKEY SAYS HE LIKES ABOUT QB BLAINE GABBERT
"His presence in the huddle, his presence on the field, his presence around the cafeteria, in the locker room. He's been beaten up a little bit for his rookie season and it would be easy to walk around with your head down, but I haven't seen that face. I think he's handled himself extremely well."
WHAT WR LAURENT ROBINSON SAYS
"It feels good to get back out there with the team, with the whole team, with all the rookies in here, the undrafted free agents are here. We're all getting on the same page, and get out there and do it on the field. . . . This is the time to get in shape. You have to condition your mind, condition your body to get in shape to run hard and run after the play to the ball. Just to go out there and give it your all every play, because it's not promised."
WHAT WR LEE EVANS SAYS ABOUT THE RECEIVERS
"You can tell guys are really in tune and trying to learn what's going on. You can tell it's still a learning curve there, but I think guys are really buying in and trying to do it right. You have a lot of guys that can make plays, and have made plays. Then you have some new talent coming in that is eager to make plays. Guys are really looking forward to the opportunity coming out here, and there's a lot of competition."
WHAT G WILL RACKLEY SAYS
"I'm very excited to see what we're going to do this season, to see how all the new things are going to work out. I think it's going to go well for us."
WHAT WE SAW
On a slick field under rainy skies on the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields adjacent to Everbank Field it was difficult to see much Wednesday. Mostly, we tried to stay as dry as possible, but tight end Marcedes Lewis and cornerback Rashean Mathis missed practice. The Jaguars went through a relatively normal practice, with defensive end Aaron Kampman working on the side and cornerback Ashton Youboty working with strength coach Tom Mylsinski – also on the side.
The 90 Jaguars players on the off-season roster will participate in an organized team activities practice Thursday, and OTAs will resume next Tuesday. OTAs are scheduled to run through June 1, with a mandatory veteran mini-camp schedule to run June 12-14. Training camp is scheduled to begin in late July.
*Former Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver attended practice Wednesday. Weaver, the owner of the team since the 1994 inception, sold the team to Shad Khan in January.
*Mularkey has said often during his first few months with the Jaguars that he wants to have learned from his first experience as head coach – with Buffalo in 2004-2005. Evans, whose first two NFL seasons came under Mularkey in Buffalo, said it's evident Mularkey has indeed changed "in a good way. From his coaching experience in Buffalo he's learned a lot and understood what it took to become a head coach and become a much more effective head coach. I can see the change in him from eight years ago, nine years ago to now. It's definitely good to see. It's a completely different team, different set-up, different everything. I think the way he's handling it is rapport with players and what he does, why he does it, how he does it I think is laid out and explained very well."
*Poslusnzy said the difference between this May and last May is substantial for him, too. This time last year, he was in Pennsylvania working out – and as a free agent, the lockout had left him in professional limbo. He signed with the Jaguars early in training camp, but throughout the offseason, he said, "there was a lot of uncertainty. You didn't know who you were going to play for, where you were going to live, when the season was going to start . . . I'm glad that part's done with."
*Robinson on rookie Justin Blackmon: "I like him – hard worker, good route runner, good hands, good run after the catch. He's learning. He's going to do real well for us."
*Although the Jaguars are entering their second season with defensive coordinator Mel Tucker fully in charge of the defense, Posluszny said that doesn't mean adding complexity to the scheme. At least not yet. Tucker last season emphasized simplicity for a unit that ranked No. 6 in the NFL in yards allowed. "Whether or not we're going to do more in in the course of OTAs, I'm not sure," Posluszny said. "Everything so far has been carryover from last year. We could easily do that. We could put more in. That's up to Coach Tucker." Posluszny said while there are advantages to adding more looks, there are disadvantages, too. "Playing with my former team (Buffalo), we did a ton of stuff, but we didn't do anything well," he said. "We like to keep things on the simple side but be highly skilled at it."
*Posluszny said although it's difficult to tell much from young players in OTAs, the athleticism and ability of Blackmon has been evident this week. "He looks like an absolute stud," Posluszny said. "Seeing how guys move, that's what really stands out." Posluszny also said Gabbert has more command, which he said is to be expected from a second-year player at the position. "I know we're all excited about him," he said.