JACKSONVILLE – CJ Henderson returned to practice Tuesday.
And as Jaguars assistant head coach/inside linebackers Charlie Strong sees it, that's a good step – and a good sign – for the second-year cornerback.
Henderson, the No. 9 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2020 NFL Draft, practiced Tuesday after missing Sunday's mock game at TIAA Bank Field for personal reasons. That came a day after he returned to practice after missing the first eight practices of 2021 Training Camp on the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list.
"It's good," Strong said Tuesday of Henderson's return. "He can make us a lot better football team. Just to see him get around it and back on the field and work … we're real excited."
Strong was asked Tuesday if he was convinced Henderson was back full time.
"It's hard to say because today was his first day," Strong said following a two-hour, 10-minute practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex on Day 11 of '21 camp. "We're going to have to work through it. We're going to do everything we can to get him in a position to come back and really work for it.
"He wants to play. He's going to do everything he can to get back and we're going to do everything we can to help him get back."
Henderson played eight games as a rookie before missing the last eight games with shoulder and groin issues. Strong said Henderson still had a chance to play in the team's 2021 preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns Sunday and absolutely could be ready for the regular-season opener against the Houston Texans September 12.
"We still have enough time," Strong said. "We're a month still out from playing our first game, and we have these preseason games. That will always be good, to get him back so he can get out there and run around. Knowing he can get back, and we just can teach him the defense – and he can learn it …
"We're doing a lot on defense. That will be good for him to get back – and just go through the whole learning process. Even if he can't come out to practice, being in the classroom really helps."
Strong added, "It's more of him being around and being out at practice. Then he will get focused and locked in. It's going to be a step-by-step process. We're willing to take any time we need to take."
Henderson worked limited Tuesday and Strong said he will be built up toward more.
"You want to make sure that when he goes in a game, he's ready," Strong said, adding: "Any time you have a great young man like that, you want to make sure you do everything possible to help him – and to help him get back on track.
"I told [Head Coach Urban Meyer], 'We're out of the process of just trying to get guys and just push them aside. Our hope is to create value for them.'"
Strong also on Tuesday discussed the development in camp of safety Andre Cisco, a rookie selected by the Jaguars in Round 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft: "Cisco is really doing well for us. We're excited about him and his total development. He hasn't missed one beat." Cisco missed the last nine games of the 2020 season at Syracuse with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. "We got him here and he was able to work through it," Strong said. "Now, all of a sudden he's out there and doing a great job for us."