JACKSONVILLE – This week features a visit with Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, who is rehabilitating from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the final game of the 2014 season.
Also, I'll share a couple of snapshots from my visit to the NFL offices in New York City last week during vacation.
As always, use #shadricksighting on Twitter to react or get involved, or hit me up at @jpshadrick.
Here we go Jags…
Sen'Derrick Marks going to be "pretty ready" for return to field
Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks discussed the importance of education to summer camp kids at the Boys and Girls Club NFL Youth Education Town facility Tuesday afternoon.
He also discussed his ongoing rehabilitation from the torn ACL suffered in the final game of last season.
"I actually posted a video last week of going through the bags, just showing the progress," Marks said. "Five months, this month will be six months out, and I think we're coming along with it."
Marks is eager to get back on the field in time for the September 13 opener against the Carolina Panthers.
"(I'm) not saying what's exactly going to happen within the next two months, but I think I'm going to be pretty ready for it."
During the offseason dead zone, the weeks between mandatory minicamp and the start of training camp, Marks was married to long-time girlfriend Rayan, who was in attendance Tuesday.
As expected, she said that Marks' approach to the knee injury and the rehab has been nothing but positive both at the team facility and at home.
"I thought it would bother him a little bit more than what it really did, but it's surprised me," Mrs. Marks said. "He hasn't been down, he's positive about everything, so nothing negative at all. Even the whole experience he's said that things happen for a reason, so he's been in great spirits."
In his presentation to the nearly 100 kids in attendance, Marks discussed the importance of education and setting goals in order to succeed. He grew up in a project neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama, and said that success stories and motivation were sometimes difficult to find as a youngster.
"Me growing up, a lot of people didn't come back," Marks said. "When it came to going to college, a lot of people didn't succeed and go to college and especially for sports, a lot of people I knew personally."
The fact that Marks found motivation and achieved his goals of going to college and playing in the National Football League makes him eager to teach kids that striving for goals, especially in the classroom, is important.
"Nobody ever told me or showed me the way it was supposed to be, so if anybody ever asks or wants to know anything about that I'm willing to share it with them," Marks said.
After the presentation, Marks played games with the children, including a game of "9 Square in the Air" that combines volleyball with the playground game of nine square.
When asked if his knee would hold up for the kids' games, Marks said, "We're fixing to see right now. I don't think they want me going out here going full speed either."
345 Park Avenue
It is vacation time around the Jaguars offices. This is the time to get some time away, because when training camp starts July 31, it is all football almost all the time for the following six months.
That said, I recently spent a few vacation days in New York City for the first time ever, and during the trip I had an opportunity to visit the NFL offices at 345 Park Avenue.
The actual offices take up a few floors of a very large office building in Manhattan, but upon exiting the elevator, in the main lobby guests are immediately drawn to an incredible display case featuring the Lombardi Trophy surrounded by the gold number "50" for the 50th Super Bowl game coming up this February.
Behind the case, the championship rings for each of the previous 49 Super Bowl champions are on display along a wall with a magnifying glass for closer inspection.
Once inside, a hallway includes a display case for each NFL team featuring a helmet and information about each franchise.
The most impressive part of the office was the NFL Officiating Command Center, where every game in the league is monitored by league officials.
Employees monitor four different video feeds of each game in progress, and when an officiating issue or replay comes up the crew in New York, led by NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, immediately begins reviewing the replays after a call is challenged. By the time the referee gets to the replay booth at the stadium, the command center can advise the referee in real time on key points in the play.
Though officials in New York have input on each replay, the game referee on site ultimately has the final decision on the play.