When it came down to it, Marcedes Lewis got tired of waiting.
Content no longer to watch from California as the Jaguars built a roster he believes will translate to winning, the veteran Pro Bowl tight end reported to Jaguars 2011 training camp Monday – confident his contract issues will be resolved, but even more confident camp was where he needed to be.
"It's not in my heart to miss camp," said Lewis, who reported Monday after missing the first four days of training camp.
"It hurts me more than it hurts everybody else, me not being here. I knew right away once I figured out the business side of everything I had to get taken care of at home – regardless of whether my contract was done or not – I'd be in here today."
Lewis, whom the Jaguars designated their franchise player before the lockout, is seeking a long-term contract. He participated in the early, walkthrough part of practice Monday morning, and he will attend meetings, but he said he won't participate in team drills or padded practices until a long-term deal is reached.
"That's something we came up with," Lewis said. "He (Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio) understands where my mind is, my heart is. We have to do what's right, too.
"It's hard for me to sit out there and watch other people do my job, but it's a unique situation. I'm positive this all will get done pretty soon. It's hard sitting here talking about it, because I should be in my practice pants and shoulder pads talking right now."
Lewis said his reception from players and coaches Monday "was like I never left."
"They know what I'm about," he said. "They know my character. They know deep down inside what it is with me. I just want it to get it done so I can have some clarity."
Helping his decision to report, he said, was the Jaguars' slew of free agent signings last week, a group that included linebackers Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, safety Dawan Landry, cornerback Drew Coleman, punter Matt Turk and offensive guard/center Jason Spitz.
Lewis was asked his feeling last week as he watched the news of the signings.
"Winning – winning ways," he said, smiling. "That's what we preach. (Jaguars General Manager) Gene Smith and the whole staff – you've got to credit them. They're doing a great job of bringing good guys in here who all believe in the same thing and it shows in their play. I can't wait to get out there and add to it.
"I feel like we now have a team that's ready do it. Why not now?"
Lewis, who caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, made his first Pro Bowl last season, and – to borrow a phrase from free agency – had the look of a player in ascension. Monday, he spoke like a player ready to continue that trend.
While some players have said in recent days the lockout that ended last Monday limited their off-season, Lewis said he is reporting "in the best shape of my life." He worked extensively with Mixed Martial Arts training, and said the work has helped him physically and psychologically.
"I've been able to step outside of my box and implement what I already have," Lewis said, adding of his MMA training:
"That changed my life. It changed my body, but psychologically, I feel like I'm on a different page."
The page on which Lewis most wants to be right now involves a contract extension. Once he has that, he said he can work fully toward goals that in the wake of the Jaguars' recent moves he believes reachable. But even without that done, he is in Jacksonville, and to him, that beats where he was before.
"I spoke to Coach Del Rio a few days before camp and told him I'd be here," Lewis said. "I had a few business things on my side to take care of back at home, but I would be here. Gene Smith is doing a great job of getting great guys in here with great character and building a winning team.
"Me coming in right now is for my team. I'm tired of sitting at the house worrying about my contract. I decided to let that run its course and let the chips fall where they may.
"Me being here is for my team. I wanted to be a part of something big."