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O-Zone Podcast: Chris Manhertz

Manhertz9-17

JACKSONVILLE – Chris Manhertz sees his role with the Jaguars as he sees it.

If that's different than others see it, that's fine. The Jaguars' veteran, after all, never has worried about labels – just as he never worried about if his path to the NFL was conventional.

So, when Manhertz was asked this week if he was a receiving tight end or a blocking tight end, it's unsurprising his answer was that neither description was particularly apt.

"I'm a tight end," he said with a laugh. "I would like to think I'm able and capable of doing both."

Manhertz, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in March, joined senior writer John Oehser on this week's O-Zone Podcast. His role was a natural topic – because while his reputation upon joining the team was as one of the NFL's top blocking tight ends, he has shown during his short time with the Jaguars that he is capable of being much more.

Manhertz not only impressed as a receiver throughout the offseason and training camp, this past Sunday he caught a 22-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of a season-opening loss at Houston – a play that marked the first touchdown pass of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence's career.

That Manhertz is catching passes – or even playing in the NFL – seemed unlikely if not impossible in 2015.

At that time, he was a college basketball player at Canisius. He never played football there or in high school and never wore a football helmet until trying out for the Buffalo Bills after his college basketball career ended.

"It was kind of a whirlwind for me in the beginning, to say the least," he said. "Both sports require a lot of athleticism, but football was a different type of training for me – something very new.

"Just learning the nuances of the tight end position … that was probably the most difficult thing. Over time, you just rep it, keep sticking to it and eventually it starts to become natural."

The Bills tryout was in 2015, and he made the New Orleans Saints' regular-season roster that year. That began what is now a seven-year career that included a five-year stint with the Carolina Panthers that ended when he signed with the Jaguars.

"I don't think personally that I've even scratched my surface," he said. "It's just about continually trying to get better every single year. I pride myself on always having a better year than the previous year. I don't think I've approached my ceiling. There's always something to work on."

To hear the entire O-Zone Podcast with Manhertz, click HERE.

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