The scene inside the lockerroom of Alltel Stadium on Thursday afternoon had a resemblance to a bunch of college students heading out for Spring Break. Players with golf clubs at their lockers, suitcases being lugged to the parking lot, spirited games of ping-pong between rookies and smiles plastered across players' faces.
Today was the last day of the club's offseason conditioning program for the majority of the veterans. The program started on April 10. They will not report back to work until Friday, July 28 for the start of the 2006 Training Camp.
But the three weeks away from the weight room and practice field is not a total vacation, considering the club will hold four two-a-day practices in the first week of camp.
"If you take three weeks off out of that sun, then it will be like starting over when you get back in it," cornerback Rashean Mathis said. "You learn what you need to do specifically to get yourself in shape and know when they say, 'three weeks off,' it's not really three weeks off."
Mathis, along with numerous veterans, knows the importance of staying in shape for the next three weeks. Most players will lighten their conditioning, but will stay active.
"I will work out, but not as intense," said offensive tackle Maurice Williams, who plans to travel with his wife. "When I was a rookie, I was like, 'three weeks off.' I would just chill. I will make sure I'm doing something and not just sitting around. Everything gained up to this point can be lost if you don't use it all."
The majority of the players will stay in Jacksonville in the weeks leading up to camp. Honolulu native Chad Owens decided it would be best to remain in Jacksonville before camp and not return to Hawaii.
"It wouldn't be worth it," Owens said. "The flight is really long. It's really only going to be three days because your body will have to adjust. I didn't want to come back here and have to readjust."
Players who have been through the mental and physical grind of a NFL training camp know what to expect come late July. Owens feels like the one year in the system and being around the veterans will only help him.
"I feel a lot more comfortable," Owens said. "I feel like I'm part of this team. I'm confident in my preparation and mentally knowing what needs to be done in order to be champions. That is what this team is setting out to be."
Veteran safety and special teams standout Nick Sorensen is preparing for his fifth NFL training camp, his third with the Jaguars. Sorensen will spend the next three weeks in Virginia where he will work out with a trainer and continue to rehab his ankle he injured last year at Tennessee.
Early in his career, Sorensen would put himself through two-a-day workouts leading up to camp. The routine would get him ready for the club's training camp schedule of practicing in the morning and again in the evening. Safety Donovin Darius steps up his workouts leading up to camp to prepare both physically and mentally for the grind ahead.
But Sorensen admits there is no way to truly prepare for it.
"It's like saying, 'Can you prepare for Hell Week of Navy Seal training?' Those guys would just tell you that you just have to do it," Sorensen said. "You know it's hard. You have seen it on the Discovery Channel. Training camp is a beast. It stinks and it doesn't get any easier."