JACKSONVILLE – This brings back memories for Tre Herndon.
And even in current circumstances, the Jaguars' third-year cornerback has found some good – even some fun – in the decidedly unusual way he's preparing for the 2020 season.
"It has been kind of fun to find new workouts that I probably would have done back in high school before I was able to lift weights," he said.
Herndon, a first-year starter last season and now the team's top returning outside corner, discussed multiple topics during a Wednesday videoconference with local media – including the influence of now-departed veterans A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.
Herndon also discussed he and his girlfriend, Treyleanna Robinson, recently donating funds to provide 10,000 meals to Feeding Northeast Florida – a local food bank – to assist with COVID-19 relief. He said he has had a passion for helping impoverished areas since studying sociology at Vanderbilt University.
"I've made a statement in my mind to try to do something like that every year where I try to help out a community that's going through those kinds of things," said Herndon, who donated funds to a food kitchen in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., last offseason.
"With this virus going on right now and knowing that I am a part of another community, I felt it was a great opportunity to help out another community that I'm a part of."
But perhaps Herndon's primary topic Wednesday was one affecting all NFL players: preparing for the upcoming season under COVID-19 restrictions and doing so not knowing exactly when the offseason program will begin.
"We don't really know when we're going to get back so that timetable for me is just waiting for a word from anybody," Herndon said.
The Jaguars' offseason program – like all NFL offseason programs for teams with returning head coaches – was scheduled to begin April 20. NFL facilities remain closed and there is no timetable on when that will change.
Teams have been able to have strength-and-conditioning staffs advise players, and Herndon said the Jaguars' staff has sent elastic bands for him to use in workouts. With gyms also closed, Herndon said he has worked out in parks – creating workouts from Pinterest and Instagram.
"It's back like the old days when you are a kid and going to the playground on the monkey bars doing pullups, pushups on the benches and abs," he said. "I'm trying to keep myself upbeat any way I can to kind of substitute for missing the weight room.
"I can kind of go in and make my own thing. I know what I need to maintain as far as strength-wise and being able to be creative with my workouts, and having those bands and stuff helps me out a lot. I've been on the stairs, running stairs, doing squat jumps on the stairs.
"It's been a fun time for me."
This remains an important time for Herndon, too – and he unquestionably is an important story in the Jaguars 2020 offseason. Signed by the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft, he emerged as a starter last season when Ramsey left the lineup after Week 2. He started the final 14 games, leading the team with three interceptions and 13 passes defensed.
"I definitely feel like last season was a step for me, just getting the experience," Herndon said. "In this league you can study, you can do the extra drills as much as you want, but it all comes from experience – those live game reps.
"I feel like that's where I'm starting to excel as a player and getting comfortable on the field and getting used to the game speed, everything slowing down for me."
Herndon said Bouye and Ramsey helped the process. He and Ramsey had adjacent lockers in 2018 – "even in the time he was sitting out and I was playing his role, he kept giving me tips" – and Herndon said he and Bouye continue to train in Georgia every other day.
"I'm still getting those tips from him," Herndon said. "He's giving me that big-brother role."
Herndon said communication with current players and coaches remains limited, though he said he expects that to change as offseason schedules comes into focus. For now, he said he and other defensive backs have taken a "vet kind of mindset" – and that he and starting safeties Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison "are tapping into film trying to clean up the things that may have been missed during the season."
"Everybody has a mindset where everybody's going to be ready to go," Herndon said. "I haven't really talked to any guys, not from a football standpoint. We may link up on Xbox sometime a couple times to catch up with each other. As far as on the football side, we haven't really talked much.
"Once dates come to where we get a feel back to where we're going to come back to the facility and have a date to where we know we're going to get back in the swing of things, we're definitely going to link up and talk about goals for the season."