JACKSONVILLE – Will Richardson Jr. is smiling again.
“From last year to this year, the confidence is from a 50 to about 100 now,” the Jaguars’ second-year offensive lineman said Sunday.
The good news for the Jaguars?
That confidence is producing results, helping Richardson – a fourth-round selection in the 2018 Draft who largely had a lost rookie season – become one of the more promising stories of Jaguars 2019 Training Camp.
“It’s going good,” Richardson said Sunday following Day 13 ‘camp practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. “I’m just taking it day by day.”
Head Coach Doug Marrone on Saturday lauded Richardson’s performance in a 29-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2019 preseason opener in Baltimore last Thursday.
“I liked what he did,” Marrone said. “He showed really good strength in the run game. I think he got worn out a little bit strength-wise near the end, but that’s something that will come with experience and strength, coming back from it. I thought he did a nice job, like I said.”
Richardson said he read those words from Marrone.
And yes … it was a good feeling.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I don’t keep up with what they say about me,” Richardson said. “I want to know how people feel about me. I want to be one of the people who help change this program this year. I’ve seen some good talk about me, so my job is to keep working every day.”
Richardson, who has been working at tackle and guard during ’19 camp, played mostly at right tackle against the Ravens. That was largely because of the Jaguars’ injury situation at the position, with left tackle Cam Robinson and right tackle Jawaan Taylor out with injuries.
He also has gotten extensive looks at guard, and Marrone on Saturday mentioned Richardson along with 2018 starter A.J. Cann and second-year veteran Brandon Thomas as possibilities to start at right guard.
“Wherever coach puts me, I go over the install for that position and I just take it one play at a time, every day,” Richardson said. “Being that I’m switching up so much, the biggest deal with that is to just learn the playbook and get situated in the playbook so I can play at a higher tempo….
“Just my body, my mental processing … everything. I feel like I’ve grown and become more of a professional athlete now.”
Being mentioned as a possibility to start marked another good sign for Richardson during this camp. It also marked a step forward after a difficult rookie season.
“It’s always good to get noticed that I’m doing well,” Richardson said. “Definitely stepping in with the ones, and getting reps there, boosts my momentum a lot. It gives me a lot of courage to keep going.”
Richardson, after three seasons as a starter at North Carolina State University, missed time during his rookie training camp with a shoulder injury. He was inactive for the first five games of the regular season, then after being active for one game, he was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury October 20.
Richardson called the difference between this year and last year “huge,” and said whatever difficulties he faced last season are a reason he has a chance to smile again now.
“It was very difficult,” Richardson said. “In my last three years playing in college, I was the man. Our ‘Band of Brothers’ offensive line there … we ran the team. Last year, to come into the league and have a down season, get hurt, not be able to play, not be around the team as much as I wanted … it was a downer for me.
“I used that for motivation coming into this offseason, coming into OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamp. I used it as motivation to grind. I know what I have to do now and know what I have to do to keep my job here. I feel like that’s helped me on the field a ton.”