JACKSONVILLE – The coming weeks won't be easy.
It should surprise no one that that was a theme for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone Wednesday.
Marrone spoke for nearly 20 minutes during his pre-2018 Training Camp media availability Wednesday. He covered topics such as the expected absence early in camp of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey following the birth of his daughter – as well as the status of defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
He also was asked his expected level of difficulty for the coming weeks.
"I would use the word 'grind,''' Marrone said on a day on which all 90 Jaguars players except Ramsey reported to TIAA Bank Field and the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.
"I think it's a grind. We talk about coaching stamina, player stamina – how do we keep that focus for that long a time? You're talking about starting a day at 7 a.m., and by the time you're ending the day it's 9 o'clock at night. You're going through a lot of different things – football, in the weight room, out on the field, nutrition … all of that stuff is going on."
Marrone, entering his second full season as the Jaguars' head coach, said Wednesday he expected little change in approach from his first camp.
"We've got some things we've changed up," Marrone said, "but as far as what we want to look like on the field – running from drill to drill, competing in every single drill, trying to win every single drill … that thing remains the same.
"Everyone's motivation is different, but I'm the person who's in there saying, 'What are we doing today? Yeah, all you guys want to get there, but my job is to make sure we do what we do today.'''
Players throughout last season's AFC South Championship season and subsequent postseason run to the AFC Championship Game credited Marrone's mentally and physically taxing approach with helping establish the team's identity.
Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith was asked if having experienced success last season would change how players feel during this season's training camp.
"It wouldn't change any," Smith said, laughing. "When you see it and you know you have to do it, it's so easy to think negative. But right after that, we remember the outcome [of last season]. We take it back to that and say, 'Well, we did win…'
"You view both sides in the sense that it made guys understand, 'This is where it gets you, so put that work in.' At the same time, hard work is hard work. It's still hard.'''
Marrone said he doesn't mind players not loving every aspect of training camp.
"My philosophy has always been, 'I like a little grumbling,''' Marrone said. "If there's not a little grumbling, then maybe you're not doing the right thing. I think players understand what it's going to be, but they understand why. I think that's the most important thing."
Marrone talked about the benefit of training camp's "bunker-type mentality."
"I think it's one of the most important times to get to know your teammates, to get to compete," Marrone said. "I've always look at it as a sacred part of how we train and what we do. Once training camp breaks there's a little more free time, but you hope you've built the right foundation for it to carry over when you break camp."
Marrone also on Wednesday discussed:
*Ramsey's early-camp absence. The 2017 first-team Associated Press All-Pro cornerback late Wednesday morning announced via social media that he and his girlfriend, Bre, were welcoming a baby daughter. "He just wants to make sure baby and mom are OK; once they're OK and settled, we expect him to be coming back here," Marrone said, adding that there was no exact date of Ramsey's expected return. …
*The status of Fowler. The fourth-year veteran will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list with a left shoulder injury. Marrone said Fowler will work on the side in practice to strengthen the shoulder. "When the strength level comes to a point where we're comfortable and the doctor clears him, then we'll put him on the field," Marrone said.
*The status of tight end David Grinnage and offensive tackle Brandon Smith. Grinnage will begin camp on PUP with a left knee issue and Smith reported with a non-football injury. "He just has a cut that we're waiting to heal," Marrone said of Smith. Marrone said aside from Grinnage, Smith, Ramsey and Fowler all players should be practicing full early in camp. …
*Dareus' status following recent news of a pending off-field situation, saying the eighth-year defensive tackle is expected to participate in games and practices. "It's a civil situation," Marrone said. "I know just as much as everyone else here knows, what has been written. It is in litigation and we are just going to see what goes on with that and go from there. But he will be playing and practicing." …