JACKSONVILLE – James O'Shaughnessy is optimistic and excited.
Considering where the veteran tight end was much of last season, and considering what he has been through since, that's a good feeling.
"I'm good," he said. "I feel great."
O'Shaughnessy, who figures to be a key part of what the Jaguars expect to be an improved tight-end group in 2020, spoke to jaguars.com shortly after the Jaguars' virtual offseason program ended in early June. He spoke on a couple of issues, including the leadership of quarterback Gardner Minshew II.
"I don't know what else he could have done," O'Shaughnessy said of Minshew, a second-year veteran who is expected to be the team's starting quarterback in 2020 and who led offensive players in playbook and extra study meetings throughout the offseason.
The good news for Minshew and the Jaguars' offense:
O'Shaughnessy said he is improving physically and that his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that cost him final 11 games of last season is going well.
O'Shaughnessy, a sixth-year veteran who will enter his fourth season with the Jaguars next season, was having the best season of his NFL career – and building rapport with Minshew – last season before he sustained his injury in Week 5 at Carolina. He was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter.
"Obviously, it's a slow process," he said. "It can be a little frustrating at times watching everybody else do things I wish I could do, but I'm right on track. I missed a week because of Covid but every other day I've been in the facility."
Although the NFL's Covid-19 policies have prevented many players from being at the team facilities this offseason – and while the policies meant that the offseason programs that just ended were conducted virtually – players such O'Shaughnessy who are rehabilitating injures are allowed to work with trainers and strength-and-conditioning coaches at team facilities.
Like other Jaguars offensive players, O'Shaughnessy spent much of the past two months in the offseason program learning new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's offense. He said while learning without on-field work isn't ideal, players realize the need to perform at a high level regardless of the nature of the offseason program.
"You can only supplement it so much virtually," O'Shaughnessy. "But we as a team we have to take responsibility to accept the challenge of what's going on, how this year's going to work. Excuses are excuses. We need results. To get results, you've got to work."
O'Shaughnessy caught 14 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns in four-plus games last season, a pace that would have given him a career-high 45 receptions for 489 yards and six touchdowns in a 16-game regular season.
Minshew also spoke to jaguars.com shortly after the end of the virtual offseason program, circling back on multiple topics he discussed with media during the virtual program. Among those topics: his experience learning multiple offense in college and how it helped this offseason as he learned Gruden's offense. This is the second offense in as many NFL seasons for Minshew, who said he also learned five offenses in a collegiate career in which he played at Washington State, East Carolina, Troy and Northwest Mississippi Community College. "Being able to learn a lot of offenses in college, and now the NFL, it's definitely helped my process for learning," Minshew said. "I'm also super-fortunate to have great coaches around me, between [quarterbacks] Coach [and former New York Giants Head Coach Ben] McAdoo and Coach Gruden, who have a lot of experience … I'm learning so much from them."
Minshew on the Jaguars' expectations for this season: "We set the expectations we have for ourselves. We set expectations really high. We're not going to listen to any of the noise, good or bad. Whatever it is, we're going to set really high expectations for ourselves and try to live up to them every day."
Minshew on entering an NFL season for the first time as a starter: "It's great, but it doesn't change my mindset. I'm trying to earn the respect of these guys every day through how I lead, through how I work. That's not going to change – whatever role I'm in." Minshew went 6-6 as a starter as a rookie last season, initially replacing Week 1 starter Nick Foles when Foles was injured in the regular-season opener and later taking over as the permanent starter for the last four games of the season.