Training Camp 2019: Herndon keeps quietly impressing

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JACKSONVILLE – This is something that rarely happens.

This is a story about Tre Herndon.

"I've never really had a lot of notoriety in the media," he said following Day 8 practice of Jaguars 2019 Training Camp Friday morning at TIAA Bank Field.

Not that that bothers him too much.

"I'm used to it," he said.

But while the young cornerback has been little noticed early in his NFL career, that under-the-radar feel is changing somewhat as he enters his second professional season.

No, Herndon's not likely to start for the Jaguars – unless something unforeseen happens to cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye.

But Herndon has worked with the starters early in camp with Bouye missing repetitions because of hamstring soreness, and the former undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt continues to look like a young player developing into a reliable backup to one of the NFL's best cornerback tandems.

"He's come light years from where he was just even a year ago," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said Friday.

Wash said the reason is simple.

"He takes to coaching," Wash said. "When we ask him to do something within a technique, the fundamentals of what we ask him to do, he executes it down in and down out. He's locked in in the meetings. We feel comfortable with him in the game playing for us."

That began being true immediately upon Herndon joining the Jaguars. He impressed quickly and made the team out of training camp, playing in 11 games as a rookie. Herndon said one reason for his development has been the presence of Ramsey and Bouye.

"They're great corners," Herndon said. "I'm just looking up to them and trying to hold that standard that they can say, 'All right, when 37 goes out there, he's going to do his job.' They keep me to a high standard and push me every day."

Friday perhaps exemplified that influence. He was bothered during the interview for this story by his performance in practice, particularly a long pass allowed to wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. Herndon had tight coverage on the play, with Chark making an acrobatic catch that gave the offense a first down.

"I don't like giving any catches at all," he said. "That's the standard that two-one (Bouye) and two-oh (Ramsey) hold me to being that I'll be that next guy up if training camp goes well and I stay healthy. … "That's what they expect me to do being third corner. I know if something does happen, if I have to go in, quarterbacks are going to come to the young guy, I have to be able to step up.

"That's why I bring up stuff like catches today that I don't like. Even thought they might be good catches and throws, I don't want to give that stuff up."

Bouye has been a positive influence for Herndon in another way, too. Undrafted from Central Florida, Bouye spent five years with the Houston Texans before signing with the Jaguars in 2017. From those low-profile beginnings, Bouye was named second-team All-Pro following the 2017 season.

"We talk about it all the time," Herndon said. "If I have a good day, I need to keep having good days. I can't really slack off because at the end of the day my spot is never solidified. I keep that in my head and A.J. always reminds me of that. I just have to stack good days, and if I do have a day like today, I have to come back, fix it and be on top of it next time.

"At the end of the day, I'm still an undrafted guy. That's with me all the time."

What's also with Herndon these days is a new feeling. While he knows he must always continue to work with the focus of an undrafted rookie, he also has enough experience to take his skills closer to the level he is trying to attain.

"Last year, I was real headstrong, just trying to do whatever I can to make the team," Herndon said. "This year, I have that same mentality of making the team, but after year in the system and being more comfortable with checks and stuff, my head isn't spinning when I'm out there.

"I can line up and be more technique-based. I'm a little more comfortable."

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