JACKSONVILLE – Two and half months in, Christian Kirk feels it.
The Jaguars' veteran free-agent wide receiver likes his new quarterback, his new franchise and his new head coach. And those are reasons Kirk is smiling these days.
"There's a sense of excitement," Kirk said this week as 2022 Organized Team Activities continued at TIAA Bank Field.
Consider the excitement mutual.
Kirk, a fifth-year veteran, was perhaps the highest-profile of the team's unrestricted free agent signings this past March. The team liked his potential, veteran presence and reputation as a precise route-runner capable of straining defenses – and Head Coach Doug Pederson this week praised Kirk's offseason approach thus far.
"He's really one of the guys that's been here learning and picking up the offense," Pederson said of Kirk, who caught 236 passes for 2,902 yards and 17 touchdowns in four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. "He and [quarterback] Trevor [Lawrence] seem to be getting a little bit better each and every day from being on the same page. I just like the way he works and the way he practices.
"He's a good role model for the young guys. He doesn't say a lot when he's out there, he just goes about his business and has been real steady that way."
Kirk, a second-round selection by Arizona in the 2018 NFL Draft, spoke with jaguars.com this week about multiple topics. Among them: Lawrence, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and a player Kirk said has been as expected this offseason.
"The talent is crazy," he said with a smile. "Some of the balls he throws on the run, and just his athletic ability … He's impressive. It makes sense that he was the No. 1 overall pick and had so much success in his career."
Kirk has worked extensively with Lawrence in recent weeks, work he said will continue once the official offseason program ends in mid-June.
"I really like his approach, his demeanor when he steps into the building," Kirk said. "Everything is intentional. He knows what he wants to accomplish. Just from talking to him and spending some time with him, you know he wants to make that jump in Year Two and lead this team to having success.
"He did it a lot of years at Clemson and I know he's used to that. He's looking to get back to that and it's my job and the job of all us other new guys to help facilitate that and get him back to that level."
Kirk, too, discussed Pederson's impact on the Jaguars. Pederson, hired as head coach in early February, has talked extensively in recent weeks about rebuilding a culture and a trust within the organization – and Kirk said he has seen positives from Pederson's approach.
"That's 90 percent of this game, is confidence – having that mentality that when you step on the field, you're the best team that day" Kirk said. "He definitely brings that swagger and that confidence. It rubs off on all of us."
Kirk on a Jaguars wide receivers group that also includes Zay Jones, Laviska Shenault Jr., Marvin Jones Jr., Laquon Treadwell and Jamal Agnew: "The big thing for us is we have so much talent in our room. We have to hold ourselves to a high standard. There are a lot of expectations for us. We know that. That's our job to deliver. Anytime anything is not up to our standard, we're going to be held accountable. We like that."
- Pederson this week reiterated what he has said often this offseason – that he considers tight end a strength of the team. The Jaguars this offseason signed tight end Evan Engram as an unrestricted free agent from the New York Giants, adding to a group that includes veterans Dan Arnold, Chris Manhertz and Luke Farrell.
- The Jaguars also signed Grayson Gunter, Gerrit Prince and Naz Bohannon as collegiate free agents following the 2022 NFL Draft. "It's a really good group, veteran group," Pederson said. "I'm encouraged by that group and I'm really looking forward, again, to training camp when pads come on and watching them and their physicality and blocking and how well they perform."
Pederson on second-year S Andre Cisco: "He's really done a nice job this offseason coming in there. He's a great communicator, just watching him with the defense and how he moves and how he fits. Again, it's going to be really good for him once we do get the pads on and see his physicality and how he can play. He's a really good football player for us and I'm excited to watch him during training camp."