JACKSONVILLE – Kelvin Beachum smiled Wednesday, and the smile was real.
Beachum, the Jaguars' veteran offensive lineman, went through one-on-one pass rush drills and had his most complete practice of the offseason Wednesday as the Jaguars prepared for Sunday's Week 3 preseason game against Cincinnati. That was a big step.
And it was plenty of reason to smile.
"I can see the light," Beachum said with a laugh shortly after the Jaguars' practice Wednesday afternoon at the practice fields adjacent to EverBank Field. "It's very close. I don't know how close, but I really feel close to being similar to myself and that's a good thing."
Head Coach Gus Bradley, who said early in the week he hopes Beachum can make his Jaguars debut Sunday, said Beachum did well practicing for a second consecutive day.
"He took quite a few reps – even in the one on ones when he was going against D-linemen," Bradley said. "The arrow continues to be up for him. We'll see how he progresses during the week."
Beachum has missed the first two preseason games while returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that kept him out of not only Pittsburghs' final 10 regular-season games in 2015 but also the entire offseason after signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent.
Beachum is expected to compete with Luke Joeckel for the starting left tackle position. Joeckel, the starter at left tackle the last two seasons, has played well in his first two preseason games and had one of his best performances since joining the Jaguars Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Whoever doesn't play left tackle between Beachum and Joeckel is expected to start at guard.
Bradley is encouraged by Beachum's performance Wednesday.
"All evidence is good evidence," Bradley said. "Whatever he's going through, it's great to work through it. I think that builds great mental toughness and great confidence in what he can do. You just see him every day progressing. I'm very pleased that we didn't do it too fast."
Beachum participated at various levels during the first weeks of training camp and during the practices leading to the first two preseason games, but Wednesday was the first occasion in which he worked one-on-one pass rushing drills. That's a big step because offensive linemen must plant and maneuver similar to real game speed during the drills.
"I've had to have some conversations with a number of colleagues that I'm close to about this process," Beachum said. "It has been a little rough at times, but it's closer than it was a month ago. It's closer than it was last week. We're just taking it a day at a time and making sure I'm being patient."
Beachum said of his work during the early days of camp, "I think it showed me where I was and where I wasn't, things I could do and I couldn't do. I pressed the envelope to get out there and get rolling. They did a great job of managing the situation at the time. I'm feeling good right now."
Asked if there was something he needed to do to feel if he was completely back, Beachum smiled.
"I've got to play a whole game," he said. "That's when you know you're back. Until then, it's still a work in progress. All I can do then is continue to do the things that Mylo [Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Tom Myslinksi] and [Jaguars head Athletic Trainer] Scott [Trulock] are asking me to do. When we have to roll the ball out, we'll roll the ball out."
Beachum said while he very much wants to play against Cincinnati Sunday it's a decision that remains up to coaches, trainers and doctors.
"That would be ideal, but Coach Gus and the staff will do what's best for the team at this point," Beachum said.
Practice images from Thursday, August 24.