JACKSONVILLE – There are several reasons Mike Brown is in Minnesota this week, but the biggest one is simple. There's really nowhere else he would rather be.
The same is true of Cecil Shorts III, who – like Brown, his teammate in the Jaguars' wide receivers corps – is in Minneapolis, Minn., with a slew of NFL wide receivers and quarterbacks at Larry Fitzgerald's annual offseason workout camp at the University of Minnesota.
"This offers you an opportunity to get together with some of the top guys in the NFL," Brown, a second-year veteran, said this week.
It's also an opportunity to prepare for training camp and the regular season at a time they otherwise would have trouble doing so.
The Jaguars open training camp July 25, reporting for training camp the previous day. While players can be at EverBank Field individually before then, they can't work out on the field with coaches present at EverBank until camp.
But they can work on the field at the Fitzgerald Camp, a two-week session staged annually in Minneapolis by Fitzgerald, an All-Pro wide receiver the Arizona Cardinals.
"It's just a really good group," Shorts said. "We're going hard and pushing each other."
Brown said about 30 players are participating at Fitzgerald's camp this week, including not only Fitzgerald, Shorts and Brown, but Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, Washington Redskins wide receiver Andre Roberts, Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, New England Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith.
Players work at the camp each morning, focusing on agility, speed and strength workouts as well as wide receiver-specific drills.
"It's kind of a neutral place where a bunch of guys can get together and work together and learn from each other," Brown said.
Shorts said he and Brown originally planned to stay just this week, but now plan to stay next week. Brown said the experience – and the opportunity to learn from other players – is invaluable.
"You get a chance to see what other guys are doing on the field, how they run their routes, how they set their routes up – things like that," Brown said. "You're always looking for something to pick up from every single person. It's not like we have (wide receivers) coach (Jerry) Sullivan here telling us what we're doing wrong. Me and Cecil are just trying to keep an eye on each other. We're just holding each other accountable and trying to learn from guys across the league."
Sullivan may not be there in body, but he's very much there in spirit.
Sullivan worked with Fitzgerald during the 2011 lockout and Fitzgerald remains a believer in Sullivan's principles, teaching them when working with younger receivers at the camp.
"He knows what it's supposed to look like and we know what it's supposed to look like," Brown said. "We definitely see a lot of (Sullivan) in him. He really works hard it."
Said Shorts, "He (Fitzgerald) is all about Coach Sullivan. He talks about him 24-7."
Shorts said that was evident this week when Fitzgerald ran a drill in which receivers worked on comeback route.
"It's a tough route to run," Shorts said. "He (Fitzgerald) said, 'C, watch this route – make sure I'm doing it Sully's way; make sure I'm dropping my weight; make sure I'm making the right turn."
Shorts added with a laugh, "I ran a bad curl Wednesday and he (Fitzgerald) got on me, 'What would Coach Sully say? He'd be on you.' When a Hall of Famer receiver is hungry to learn from Coach Sullivan, that just solidifies what we're doing. That's huge.''
Shorts said in addition to getting a couple of extra weeks of work, there is a simple, selfish reason he returns to Fitzgerald's camp each summer.
"Just being around Larry, being around him," Shorts said. "That's the biggest thing for me, seeing how he deals with people, how he attacks his game, how he works on his craft. He's a future Hall of Famer. He's up here, willing to work with guys who are trying to get on teams, guys in college, guys fighting to get on teams. It says a lot about him. He's a humble guy.
"He'll definitely be in the Hall of Fame, and to see him work on his craft, to see him still pushing to be great, it's huge."