JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone talked football and tattoos Thursday.
He talked anxiety, too.
That was the wide-ranging and sometimes casual vibe Thursday that marked the Jaguars’ head coach’s final media availability of 2019 organized team activities.
“Last time for OTAs right here,” Marrone said early in his conversation with the media Thursday morning before the Jaguars’ ninth OTA practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field.
The Jaguars are scheduled to hold their final 2019 OTA practice Friday morning, but Marrone is not scheduled to speak that day. The Jaguars’ will close the ’19 offseason with a three-day mandatory minicamp next Tuesday-Thursday.
“The players who are out here now have done the best job I’ve ever seen of not being on the ground,” Marrone said. “Helmets aren’t getting involved in anything. A lot of times inside when you go 11-on-11, those helmets can hit a shoulder. Guys are working with each other.
“This is the best group I’ve ever had as far as working together and staying up, so if that remans through training camp and the mandatory minicamp, then we’ll be fine.”
Marrone on Thursday was asked about multiple players who have missed the voluntary sessions at times – a list that includes defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and running back Leonard Fournette.
“All of our guys who haven’t been here are in communication with coaches, including Leonard,” Marrone said.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has not attended OTAs but is expected to participate in minicamp. Linebacker Telvin Smith also has not attended OTAs; Smith announced last month he doesn’t plan to play in 2019.
Marrone also discussed multiple players who have missed OTA practices with injuries:
*Rookie running back Ryquell Armstead sustained what Marrone called a “slight hamstring” injury in practice this week; he will likely miss minicamp and be fine for training camp. “Not a problem,” Marrone said.
*Rookie edge defender Josh Allen, who has missed much of OTAs with a knee bruise, likely won’t participate in minicamp. “I’ll probably just as safety hold him until he’s ready for camp,” Marrone said. “Technically he could be ready to go next week.”
*Second-year left tackle Cam Robinson, who missed the final 14 games of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and who hasn’t practiced full in OTAs, likely will be held out of minicamp as is the norm for players who sustained ACL tears a season before. “I’m not going to take those chances,” Marrone said.
Marrone said managing injury risk during unpadded practices is always on his mind during offseason practices.
“It’s always tough,” Marrone said. “In OTAs I feel a lot more comfortable – meaning I don’t really have anxiety. I do really start getting a little anxiety in the mandatory minicamp for some reason. Meanwhile, it’s only like four or five days – like today I don’t have any anxiety. First day of minicamp, I don’t have any.
“Second day [of minicamp], probably halfway throughout that practice, I’m looking around. … As a coach, about halfway through that practice, every little thing that happens you get a little bit of anxiety. And then the last day, you have a ton of anxiety. God forbid something happens and people are saying, ‘He was out there? Did you know anything? Was it worth it?’
“You kick yourself in the butt, but that’s the way it is.”
Marrone’s media availability closed Thursday with him being asked about reserve quarterback Alex McGough’s tattoos.
“I have enough conversation with the coaches about their tattoos,” he said. “I have tattoos, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it. It’s painful. I’ve had them since I was very young. I go here and there where I wish I wouldn’t have done it. As long as you’re comfortable with it and you don’t regret it later in life … I respect everyone’s decision.
Marrone said he had two tattoos – one honoring a friend lost early in life and another representing Syracuse University. Marrone was asked the location of the tattoos.
“I ain’t going there,” he said.