Offseason kickoff: “It’s a voluntary period”

JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars opened the offseason near full attendance.

The exceptions were cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith, with the two players opting not to attend the opening of the voluntary offseason program this week.

That’s what Head Coach Doug Marrone emphasized when speaking to the media at TIAA Bank Field on Tuesday – that the majority of the offseason program, including the early period, is not mandatory under NFL rules.

“It’s a voluntary period; it’s an option,” Marrone said shortly before noon Tuesday during his first media availability of the 2019 offseason program. “I don’t try to concern myself with things that are out of my control. I’m sure they’re both working hard.”

NFL offseason programs have three phases: a two-week, conditioning-oriented Phase 1; a three-week Phase 2 with on-field individual work; and a four-week Phase 3 with three weeks of organized team activities followed by a three-day mid-June minicamp. Phase 3 is the only period that allows team, 9-on-7 and 7-on-7 drills, and all offseason work is non-padded with no contact.

Only the three-day minicamp is mandatory. Marrone said while he had reached out to Smith and Ramsey he had not heard back from either player.

“I haven’t talked to them, but those are two guys I’m not worried about,” veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said of Smith and Ramsey. “Those are guys I know are going to come back in top-tip shape, focused and ready to go. I know their grind and work ethic. They’re going to be just fine.”

Marrone also on Tuesday discussed the recent issues involving running back Leonard Fournette, calling the third-year veteran’s arrest last week for driving on a suspended license “a mistake.”

Marrone, who met with Fournette after the running back’s difficult 2018 season, had said shortly after that meeting that he liked where Fournette seemed mentally at that time. Marrone was asked Tuesday if last week’s incident changed that.

“We’ll see,” Marrone said. “It doesn’t change it for me. I don’t want to get into where I stand here and dim trying to lessen anything. A law was broken. At the same time, I don’t want to say, ‘Oh, my gosh … is that going to change my relationship or anything like that. We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Fournette twice during his first two NFL seasons missed games for disciplinary reasons, missing a victory over Cincinnati in 2017 because of team discipline and missing a victory over Indianapolis last season while serving a one-game NFL suspension for his involvement in an on-field fight in Buffalo the previous week. Jaguars Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin also issued a statement citing disappointment in Fournette’s sideline behavior during the 2018 season finale.

Marrone said he recently shared with Fournette his own experience while recruiting as a college coach in the 1990s. Marrone said he believed he had paid his ticket for an original violation, then was stopped for speeding in Daytona Beach and handcuffed when it was discovered his license had been suspended for a violation in another state.

“He was just doing his job and I did a poor job,” Marrone said of the officer. “You want to make sure you follow up on things and you follow through. Now, I’m crazy about it. … I think you have to learn from it. You have to learn from mistakes.”

Marrone added that Fournette will not be disciplined by the team for the incident, with Campbell calling the incident “unfortunate.”

“Nobody’s worried about what’s going to come from that,” Campbell said. “We’re confident that’s going to pass over and he’s going to be ready to go to work. He came in in great shape and looks good. He has a good attitude. I’m looking forward to seeing his progression and what he does this year.”

With all but two players reporting for the offseason program Monday, Marrone said his early impressions were that most players were in good condition.

“That’s the one thing with Phase 1: The No. 1 focus for the team is the lifting and running and being in shape. If we go out there and we’re not ready to be out there and we have injuries – we’ve seen what that has done to this team. Those things went into some changes I’ve made with some of the scheduling and how we do things.”

Also on Tuesday:

Marrone discussed third-year left tackle Cam Robinson, who missed the last 14 games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. “He’s working hard, rehabbing,” Marrone said. “You’ll see him. He’s around.”

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