JACKSONVILLE -- Myles Jack can’t – and won’t – try to replace his friend and teammate.
“Telvin was Telvin; that’s kind of his thing,” Jack said.
The fourth-year veteran was talking this week about fellow Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, a vocal player who last month announced he doesn’t plan to play in 2019. When he said “Telvin is Telvin,” what Jack meant was that he won’t try to emulate his friend’s vocal approach to leading.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t lead. Or that he doesn’t need to do so.
“My goal this offseason was to become a second coach on the field,” Jack said during 2019 Jaguars minicamp, which ended Thursday at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. “My role in this defense is, No. 1, just get everybody lined up – lead by example and just kind of be someone everyone can lean on.
“l get vocal if necessary. I have no problem speaking up. But I feel like my position going into Year 4 is I need to be the staple where if someone doesn’t know something I can be the encyclopedia.”
With Smith expected to miss 2019, Jack – a second-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft – is suddenly in a new role. Long a young player with talent, he now is a veteran on a talented defense that has undergone significant change this offseason.
It’s a role Jack is embracing.
“I think he enjoys it,” defensive coordinator Todd Wash said.
Jack did get vocal earlier this offseason following Smith’s announcement. Amid speculation he could move into Smith’s former weak-side role, Jack told reporters he believed he should remain in the middle. He indeed has remained there – and considering the play-calling responsibilities of the middle linebacker, he said that only makes sense.
“I could do it, but at this point in my career I feel like they groomed me so much that Mike (middle linebacker) is the only option,” Jack said. “Look around in the locker room: Our whole linebacker room is brand new, so to put somebody in that position to have to know the whole defense, to put that on their shoulders, I feel like that would be borderline impossible.”
Wash left no doubt that Jack is where he belongs.
“He’s the Mike linebacker,” Wash said. “He has to be the leader. He definitely has stepped that up within the linebacker room. It’s going to be interesting to see just how well he continues to improve. It’s taken a little bit of time for him to really excel within the run game.
“He always has excelled in the pass game, but you’re starting to see him really figure it out even more than he has in the past.”
Jack this week made a point to offer perspective on defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Jack and Ngakoue, members of the Jaguars’ 2016 draft class, are close friends – and Jack emphasized this week that Ngakoue didn’t take his decision to skip minicamp lightly. “He’s a football player; he loves the game,” Jack said. “He loves being out there. He enjoys the grind. Trust me, nobody works harder than Yann. Yann doesn’t want to skip this at all. At the same time, sometimes you have to better yourself and invest in the future. That’s what he’s doing. He’s put up the numbers to have the leverage to do that.” Ngakoue missed much of voluntary organized team activities last month and early this month, then missed mandatory minicamp this past week because his contract situation has yet to be resolved.
Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo this week expressed confidence in a position that has a significantly different look compared to six months ago. “I’m very pleased with our tight end room,” DeFilippo said, noting the intelligence and versatility of veterans James O’Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim. DeFilippo also praised rookie tight end Josh Oliver, a third-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft who was impressive as a receiver throughout the offseason. “He’s coming along and he’s working his butt off,” DeFilippo said. “He’s just having some rookie issues in terms of lining up and those things, which every rookie is having right now in the NFL. It is nothing against Josh, but once he really gets going in training camp and has a chance to let the information sink in, I think we have a chance to have a pretty good room in there. …. I’m looking forward to seeing the pads go on to see how well we block at the point of attack. I think we did a good job there this offseason.”
“We have a lot more speed there (at wide receiver) than I thought. We have some guys in that room that can fly, some big guys that can fly. I’m a big believer in the receiver room and diversity. When I say diversity, it doesn’t have anything to do with where you’re from or your race or whatever. Different body types, different skill levels, in terms of [us having] a bigger guy that can body someone up and maybe a guy like Dede Westbrook that is a little bit of a smaller guy but can wiggle and get himself open in different ways. You don’t want all big guys. You don’t want all small guys. You want a good, diverse group in that room that brings different skill sets to the table.”