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Shatley: "Do everything I can to be more valuable"


JACKSONVILLE – Jaguars offensive lineman Tyler Shatley's offseason includes a few staples…

Weightlifting four times a week. Bass fishing – when it's not too hot ("I sweat so much I might sink the boat"). Plenty of focus on the task coming up in training camp.

For the third-year offensive lineman, the task for this training camp and beyond is simple.

"The next step… is show them that I feel like I deserve to be around," Shatley said earlier this week after a workout at EverBank Field.

"That's my first next step is to get on the team again, but after that is a lot of just showing them that I can continue to play this role or eventually maybe work my way into a starting position or show them that I'm capable of it."

Joining the Jaguars as an undrafted player in 2014, Shatley is entering the final year of his three-year rookie contract in 2016.

"Right now I'm just trying to do everything I can to be more valuable to the team," Shatley said. "I played center during OTAs, and then during camp I'm going to play a little guard with the threes, just kind of showing that I can still do that (and) that I can back up all those positions.

The battles on the interior of the offensive line should be an intriguing part of the training camp storylines, with Shatley having a major part in all.

Though there will be a competition for both positions, third-year veteran Brandon Linder is the favorite to play center, and second-year veteran A.J. Cann started 13 games at right guard a season ago.

A number of players are battling for the open left guard spot, or a guard spot of any kind, including free-agent signing and ninth-year veteran Mackenzy Bernadeau, third-year veteran Kadeem Edwards and first-year player Chris Reed. Throw in whoever is not starting at left tackle between Luke Joeckel and Kelvin Beachum, and the competition will be high for a few valuable offensive line positions in camp.

Shatley's abilities on special teams, both on the field goal and kickoff return units, should help if a roster decision comes down to a final few spots.

"Obviously special teams is another big one, especially for me, the position I am. I can do more than back up the offensive line, I can work a little on the field goal team, help out on kickoff return.

"I think getting more reps at it will help, because a lot of that is… you can do it in practice, you can run around and kind of shadow guys, body guys up, but until you're actually in a game doing it, it's hard to really simulate those reps. Last year I got two games to go back and be on the wedge. I feel like I got more comfortable actually doing it in a game situation."

Versatility is a great attribute for an undrafted player, but having brute strength to go along with it never hurts. Shatley is considered by many around the organization as one of the strongest players on the offensive line.

The strength combined with playing in a small area – or "in a phone booth" as the saying goes – reminds Shatley a little of his past.

"It might be my wrestling background," Shatley said, a dominant high school wrestler in Icard, North Carolina.

"I wrestled all growing up, and that's what I did from football season straight into wrestling season, and it's all just close quarters, just battling.

"I've got shorter arms compared to the average guy on the line, so I try to play to my strengths."

Shatley showed that strength and ability quickly during his rookie offseason of 2014. After joining the team that year as an undrafted rookie out of Clemson, the Jaguars waived him at the end of training camp, but promised a practice squad spot.

But only a day later, he was instead told that he made the 53-man roster. Interest from other organizations forced the Jaguars to protect him on the active roster, instead of taking the chance of losing him off the practice squad.  

He spent 15 games of the 2014 regular season as an inactive player on game days, but his NFL debut came in the Week 10 game against the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium in London, when he played the second half at right guard.

In 2015, Shatley saw action in 13 games, primarily on special teams. 

So for the strongest offensive lineman on the team, is it frustrating not to crack the starting lineup?

"I think that's one of the things I've learned too – I've been around more guys, like (former Jaguars offensive tackle) Sam Young has been next to me at my locker for so long. I talked to Mylo (Jaguars strength and conditioning coordinator Tom Myslinski), and he was a career backup.

"Sometimes that's just the role you're given. All you can do is the best at what your job is, you can't really worry about the other stuff because then you start thinking too much. It becomes less of a game and more of a business or more of 'how can I work my way in?' instead of just worrying about what you're supposed to be worrying about."

With 2016 training camp right around the corner, Shatley is looking forward to the competition ahead and his future with the organization – after a little fishing, while he still can.

"I've been trying to fish in the afternoons, but you have to be more careful (due to the heat). Maybe do it on a Tuesday afternoon, because Wednesday is our recovery day, but maybe a Friday night, Saturday night… You have to pick your times.

"Now that we're getting close to camp, I might have to cut it down a little bit and save up this energy."

Entering training camp during a contract year with competition across the offensive line, that energy will come in handy for Shatley when the team hits the field for training camp in two weeks.

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