Thursday: Big opportunity at corner

102518-Meeks

JACKSONVILLE – However it came, this is his chance.

Jaguars cornerback Quenton Meeks knows this, and he also knows it's a chance for a good moment in a what for a while was a really difficult year.

"I've worked my whole life for this, so now's the opportunity to show what I can do," Meeks said Thursday as the Jaguars (3-4) prepared to play the Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) at Wembley Stadium in London Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

As if often the case for a young player, injuries are giving Meeks his chance.

Starting cornerback A.J. Bouye, an All-Pro selection last season, sustained a hip injury in practice Wednesday and did not participate Thursday in the Jaguars' final practice before leaving for London. His status for Sunday is uncertain.

Nickel cornerbacks D.J. Hayden and Tyler Patmon also did not practice Thursday, with Patmon sustaining a neck injury last Sunday in a loss to Houston and Hayden missing the last five games with a sprained toe.

That leaves the Jaguars with four healthy cornerbacks:

All-Pro selection Jalen Ramsey, Meeks, rookie Tre Herndon and rookie Dee Delaney – with Delaney signing with the team Thursday from the team's practice squad.

"Obviously, we have to have a plan to see how we adjust to things in the secondary," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said Thursday. "If the two young guys play, we're excited about seeing them go out there and compete. They're on this team for a reason. We feel like they can go out and play."

If Bouye can't play, Meeks and Herndon – who, like Delaney, signed with the Jaguars as undrafted free agents following the 2018 NFL Draft – figure to play key roles.

If Meeks plays such a role, it will be a major opportunity to prove what he long believed but for a while many did not:

That he can play cornerback at a high level in the NFL.

"It's a chance to show what I can do," Meeks said. "It's a chance to fill in for A.J., who's an All-Pro player. I'm just trying to fill in and do my job until he gets back healthy. …

"I'm filling in for an All-Pro guy, so it won't be A.J. out there. I'm just trying to do the best I can until he comes back. Hopefully, when he comes back we'll have some wins under our belt and get rolling."

Meeks, who played collegiately at Stanford, took an unexpectedly long road to get to this opportunity. Despite being considered a likely mid-to-late round selection through the pre-draft process, he went undrafted.

That started what Meeks described as a difficult few months. After signing with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent, he was released in the final cut-down to the regular-season 53. He then signed to the practice squad, where he spent the first four weeks of the season before signing to the active roster shortly before Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs when Herndon sustained a hamstring injury.

Meeks has played sparingly in two games with one tackle.

"It's been tough," Meeks said. "There was a point where I was wondering if I wanted to play football or not. It got to that point for me."

Meeks described the period "as a lot of dark times, a lot of nights crying to myself."

"I actually cried on draft weekend; it really hurt me a lot," Meeks said. "Then not making the initial 53 was really hard, being on the practice squad … I just kept my faith in God and realized he has a plan for my life. I kept the attitude.

"It's crazy. This whole year is like a movie for me. I would never, ever would have guessed that I would be in this position right now. I'm just blessed."

Part of that blessing is playing in Jacksonville, where Meeks has roots. His father, former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, was born in Jacksonville and played at Lee High School. His grandfather, who died around the year Quenton was born, was an original Jaguars season-ticket holder.

"This is where the Meeks family kind of originated," he said. "We're built on work, so that's all I can do."

On Sunday, Meeks will get an opportunity to play for what his family considers the hometown team – and he'll do it on an international stage against the defending Super Bowl champions.

"I played in the Rose Bowl," he said, laughing. "That's the biggest stage besides the Super Bowl in my opinion. I've really waited my whole life for this. This is all I've ever wanted to do, so to have the opportunity to get out there when so many people said I couldn't play corner, that I was too slow, too stiff, that I would never be a successful NFL corner …

"To be able to go out there and prove those people wrong – oh, man … that's going to be great."

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