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Inside the Jaguars: Reynolds gets "great opportunity"


JACKSONVILLE – Whatever the circumstance, his approach is the same.

LaRoy Reynolds figured he has no other choice, just as he had no choice in his approach since signing with the Jaguars as a rookie free agent shortly after the 2013 NFL Draft.

Compete. Work every day. And yes, get better.

That's Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley's mantra, as it is for any rookie free agent, so Reynolds -- a linebacker from the University of Virginia – figures there's no reason to change this week, just because he's working with the first team for the first time.

"I'm just going out there, and being accountable and doing my job," Reynolds said Tuesday following the Jaguars' practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.

Reynolds did that throughout organized team activities and the early part of training camp, impressing coaches and teammates as one of the standout rookies of camp.

"He's going to help us out for sure," middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said.

Reynolds, after standing out early in camp as a reserve middle linebacker, played extensively in that role in the preseason opener against Miami. He moved outside to the strong-side spot this week to work with the first team with veteran Russell Allen out with an ankle injury.

"We'd like to give him an opportunity to play … against the Jets" Saturday, Bradley said. "You talk about strain now, he's feeling it. He's playing Sam and Mike so he's going with the first groups of Sam reps and he's going on for two reps at Mike.

"What a great opportunity for him. He comes in and he's a free agent player and he's got a chance to show us what he's all about."

Reynolds called the first-team repetitions a "great opportunity," but it's a chance that has been earned. He consistently has made plays in practice, and has been one of the standout players from a rookie free agent class that is expected to have multiple players on the final roster.

"He stands out right away because of his ability to run to the football," Posluszny said. "He learned the Mike well, and now the opportunity has come up and we can move him around and see where he fits best. That's a challenge. To flip a switch and be able to play something else is not an easy thing. For him to be able to come in and do it and be comfortable is really an advantage for us."

Reynolds said he never lost confidence that he could play in the NFL. As for why a player of his ability went undrafted, he shrugged. It was circumstance, he said, as much as anything. He moved from safety to linebacker his second season, and then didn't play well in his first season as an outside backer. He said he played better the following year, but missed two games with a broken hand as a senior.

"I didn't put up the stats I could have my senior year, and we didn't have a winning record," he said. "Everything factored in."

The Jaguars this past offseason made it known to agents and players that collegiate free agents would have a very real chance to make the team. Reynolds said that, as well as the close relationship he developed with Jaguars scout Brian Simmons, contributed to him signing.

"My agent was big on me coming down here, with everything being new," he said.

Reynolds said while he has played well at times, he said there are mistakes made every day on which he must improve, too.

"I tell myself every day, 'You're a rookie, undrafted, so you still have to know what you're doing and continue to play fast,''' he said. "One thing I've always told myself is, you always have everything to prove. I know I always have to prove myself and always have to push myself.

"I always tell myself, 'You're competing with yourself and competing to get better.' If I can push every day to get better, then I'm doing something."

Also on Tuesday:

*Running back Maurice Jones-Drew said he feels as if his speed is returning after an offseason spent rehabilitating a sprained foot. Jones-Drew has been playing his way into playing shape after reporting to camp heavy. "It's coming back," he said. "Things are starting to come back. At the end of the day, I'm trying to get myself in that peak shape so come the time to play I'm able to go out there and run." . . .

*Bradley said Jones-Drew has been "showing up" consistently in practice, and Jones-Drew was among the veterans the head coach praised after practice Tuesday. "He's still not where we want him but every day you see his weight coming down and he's getting more and more in shape and you're seeing where he's gaining confidence in it," Bradley said. "I like the way he's improved." . . .

*Jones-Drew said he doesn't yet know if he will play Saturday against the Jets. "If I get the green light, I get it," Jones-Drew said. "If I don't, I go back to work next week and do it over again." Jones-Drew said he can prepare for the regular season whether he plays extensively in the preseason or not.

*Tight end Marcedes Lewis spoke to the offense as a group after practice. This followed a second consecutive day in which it appeared that unit was behind the defense. "It was a tough day, and I felt like we didn't get better," he said. "For one reason or another, we weren't on our mark. We could have been a lot better. In years past, a practice like that, we may have been able to come into the locker room and be cool with that. We can't do that. It stops here. Mediocrity can't be accepted."

*Bradley on Lewis' talk with team: "Our guys are great. They have a level of expectation and when we talk about getting better and everyday we're getting better, when you get better then you raise the bar again." . . .

*Bradley lauded Lewis' approach throughout training camp, and also praised rookie right tackle Luke Joeckel and veteran left tackle Eugene Monroe, adding that third-year veteran guard Will Rackley "is a guy that has really been impressive to us." . . .

*Bradley said rookie wide receiver Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson are continuing to impress, and that cornerbacks Alan Ball and Dwayne Gratz each have been playing well early. . . .

*Bradley also mentioned linebacker Geno Hayes and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, and said of veteran defensive tackle Roy Miller, "It's a whole different feel when he's in there. It's a whole different feel and we can get them more of a defense that we like to play with him in there."

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