Few could have predicted this. C.J. Mosley gets that.
But the NFL isn't always about what's easy to forecast, or what's expected, which is part of what makes Mosley one of the best stories on the Jaguars this season.
An eight-year veteran? A guy who has been with three other teams?
A guy who signed with the Jaguars as a free agent midway through the 2010 season?
That guy is Mosley, and that guy isn't necessarily supposed to be one of the best players on the defense, and he's not supposed to be making impact plays on pretty close to a weekly basis.
But that's what Mosley's doing, expected or not.
"It's like any other job," Mosley said as the Jaguars (1-9) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (4-6) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. "Just because someone else thinks you may not be able to perform or may not be able to do it – that doesn't mean you give up. You just push harder."
Mosley, an eight-year veteran defensive tackle who never had started more than three games in an NFL season, has been firmly in the Jaguars' defensive rotation all season, moving into the starting lineup in late October.
Since then, he has played well enough to keep the job, and this past Sunday, he had one of the better games in recent memory for a Jaguars defensive tackle, registering each of the Jaguars' two sacks on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, as well as a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
It was a big game, a memorable game.
But to those who have been playing with Mosley the last two seasons, it wasn't unexpected.
"He's gotten better, and he's played really good football," Jaguars defensive line coach Joe Cullen said. "He's played good against the run, and dominated a little in the run, and he's done a good job all season being better than an adequate pass rusher – then he showed up the other day and was really a dominant pass rusher.
"You just love coaching guys like that. He's taken advantage of every opportunity."
Mosley entered the NFL as a sixth-round selection by Minnesota in 2005. He was traded to the New York Jets in August of 2006, and while he played the 2009 season with the Cleveland Browns after signing there as a free agent, the Browns released him after the 2010 preseason.
At that point, without a team after five seasons, many NFL players either drift away unsigned, or play a season or two with a team or two before their career ends. Mosley signed with the Jaguars a month after being released, and not only has stayed on the roster, he has improved with each season and become a more integral part of the defense.
"I just think my mentality is different," Mosley said. "I just have a never-give-up-attitude and I never say no. There are a lot of people who either fell off or didn't make it, but there are others out there who have.
"It was a situation where I came in as a backup. That's the role I was told I would have, and I was fine with that. Now, I just have to keep working it. For me, it's a week-to-week thing."
Mosley this season has a career-high six starts. He not only leads the team with three fumble recoveries and shares the lead with two sacks, he leads the team with six tackles for loss.
"I feel like I'm getting better every week, and getting better at my position, and that's the goal," Mosley said.
And while his two sacks Sunday were his first two of the season, and while he's not exactly known for pass-rushing prowess, he won't say pass rushing is an afterthought.
"Everybody wants to rush the passer and thinks they're sweet at pass rushing," Mosley said with a smile. "I've always had the knack to get after the quarterback, because the camera's on him."
Asked if in that sense he was playing "sweeter" now than he ever has, Mosely laughed.
"I'm really just having fun," he said. "I've put a lot of time into it. I'm just having fun and trying to get better each and every day."
Also around the Jaguars Thursday:
*Fullback Greg Jones (thigh) practiced on a limited basis after missing practice Wednesday, and center Brad Meester (foot) worked full after missing practice Wednesday. Those were the only changes on the practice report, with running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) and cornerback Will Middleton (concussion) remaining out of practice and cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) and safety Dwight Lowery (ankle) again working limited.