JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser spent time this week with DE Tyson Alualu, discussing three questions as the Jaguars prepared to play the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium Sunday
The topic: Durability
The background:Alualu, the No. 10 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2010 NFL Draft, is nearing the end of his seventh NFL season. He has missed just two games in his career – the first two games of the 2016 regular season when he was ruled out as a healthy inactive. He played 16 games every season from 2010-2015, a streak that included a 2012 season in which when he played every game after undergoing offseason micro-fracture surgery.
The first question: To never miss a game because of injury in seven NFL seasons is an accomplishment. How have you done it?
The quote:"My mentality is if I'm able to go, I'll go. I'm very fortunate and blessed that I haven't had too bad an injury to keep me out of games. I guess it's just about coming into the league and knowing how to take care of my body. You come into the league and you see people who have been doing it a long time; you try to emulate and take things from them so you can do the same. It's about knowing your body and taking care of your body so you can be out there Sunday."
The second question:You're modest and understated, but there were times in '12 that playing Sundays was no guarantee …
The quote:"I still remember those times. There were prayers I had to pray before the game. Even on game day when I woke up, I felt like I wouldn't be able to go. I'm thankful I was able to get through that and play through some injuries, because that taught me a lot about myself as a person and as a player. It just taught me to be grateful. I think my upbringing has a lot to do with that, with having that mentality: If you're hurt but you can still play, you go out and give everything you've got. I've been like that since high school, through college and still while I'm in the league. Even with practice – I don't like missing practice because it plays a big part of how you play in the game. I do take a lot of pride in that."
The topic: The beginning of the 2016 season
The background:With the Jaguars' deeper on the defensive line at the beginning of this season than they had been in recent seasons, Alualu was inactive for the first time in his career. He since has returned to the starting lineup, starting at the Jaguars' strong-side end position.
The question:Inactive for two games at the start of the season … that couldn't have been easy.
The quote:"That was really tough, being inactive and it not being due to an injury. I was frustrated. I was mad. All the thoughts of 'I don't want to be here' crept in. I'm blessed to have good people in my corner from my D-line brothers to family. They encouraged me to control what I can control, keep a good attitude and always believe that something good was about to happen. I can't complain with how things have turned and I'm trying to make the most of this opportunity."
The topic: High level of play
The background:Alualu has started seven of the last 11 games, and with strong-side end Jared Odrick out for the season with a shoulder injury, Alualu is long since re-entrenched as the starter. The Jaguars' defense has continued to play as well or better with Alualu in the lineup – and an argument could be made that Alualu has had his best NFL season.
The question:It could be said that you're playing as well as you ever had in seven seasons. Agree?
The quote:"I feel like that. I feel healthy, so I think I'm able to go out on Sunday and give everything I've got. I set goals this year for myself when the coaches told us to do that. One of the goals was to have my best year. I think I'm on course for that and have three more games to give everything I've got. I wanted to play well overall and play every game without being out … there are things I'm still trying to reach."