It would seem the Jaguars acquired a very motivated player when they traded for guard Justin Smiley.
Smiley spoke with reporters following Thursday's OTA practice and he made a point of expressing his delight at becoming a member of the Jaguars, and for no longer being a member of the Miami Dolphins.
"I wanted to scream when it all came to an end. This has been 10 weeks for me," Smiley said.
He was referring to a 10-week period that began with being informed by the Dolphins to stay away from the team's facility, and ended this week with a trade to the Jaguars Smiley said gives him a "fresh start." He is expected to become one of the starting guards on a team that had major concerns about the interior of its offensive line.
"I owe them," Smiley said of the Jaguars, who reportedly traded a conditional seventh-round draft choice to Miami for Smiley. "I'm prepared to run through brick walls."
Only two years ago, Smiley was a high-priced free-agent acquisition by the Dolphins. A shoulder injury caused him to miss time, however, and that caused General Manager Bill Parcells to find a less-expensive replacement.
"I felt like I was the best guard they had on the roster. I feel I bring a lot to the table and look what happened to me. Teams are always looking for turnover. We have more talent inside than they have down there," Smiley told reporters. "They brought in a guy who's a very, very talented player and he was making $500,000. They think they can get the job done with someone cheaper."
Smiley claimed to have "no hard feelings," but the tone in his voice betrayed him. Clearly, his time in Miami ended in bitterness.
"There was a lot of animosity in the process, but I'm not going to go into that. It all worked out. It couldn't be a better situation," Smiley said.
With the Jaguars, it's thought Smiley will be competing with Vince Manuwai, Uche Nwaneri and Kynan Forney for a starting guard spot. Brad Meester remains the team's center, but there are no guarantees at the three interior positions. They would seem to all be up for grabs.
"We'll get Justin going as quickly as we can. We've already got some good competition. We'll find the best combination so we can get our best five on the field," offensive line coach Andy Heck said.
"Uche, we've seen him make some progress as far as his consistency and professionalism. He's developed his ability to play center as well as guard. Vince is working hard to come back from the knee. Good competition will help him. Brad looks hungry. He knows he's competing. Kynan gives you good energy. He's a guy on a mission. Justin's been a tough, hard-nosed player who brings energy," Heck added in capsule analysis of the main candidates at the three positions.
"At the end of the day, the best five guys are going to play. Nobody has any allegiance to anybody out here," Smiley said. "My goal is to give it everything I've got. These guys stuck out their neck for me. I want to prove my worth."
The Jaguars will take a one-week break from their OTA schedule. They have eight remaining practices, which will resume on June 7 and conclude on June 22.
Rookie running back Deji Karim and second-year wide receiver Tiquan Underwood made highlight plays in Thursday's practice.
Karim made another jaw-dropping move, planting his right foot, pushing off to the inside and then ducking under the arms of a defender. It was Karim's second such highlight move in a week.
Underwood caught a deep pass down the middle from Luke McCown, but it was Underwood's break to the inside that froze the defensive back that drew oohs and aahs from his teammates.