JACKSONVILLE – DJ Chark Jr.'s enthusiasm was evident Friday.
The Jaguars have a new offense and a young, rising quarterback. Chark – himself a young, rising player who is critical to that offense – likes both the offense and the quarterback. A lot.
"I think it's going to be a good season for us offensively," the Jaguars' Pro Bowl wide receiver said.
What of the new offense being installed by new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden?
"I love it," he said.
And what of quarterback Gardner Minshew II?
"That's my dog – on and off the field," he said.
Chark, entering his third NFL season and emerging as a leader on the Jaguars' offense, spoke to media about those topics Friday as 2020 Training Camp continues. He also discussed leadership – and while he doesn't covet the role, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone left little doubt this week that Chark is a model teammate and player around whom the franchise is building.
Marrone said while sometimes a coach might worry about how success might affect a player, he has no such concerns about Chark seven months after his first Pro Bowl appearance.
"I think it's made him even hungrier," Marrone said.
Marrone discussed Chark in the same vein as second-year defensive end Josh Allen, citing both players as ones who consistently exhibit an understanding of team.
"That's a whole different conversation than the one of, 'Hey I want to catch X amount of balls, I want to be a 1,000-yard receiver, I want this touchdown,''' Marrone said. "DJ says, 'How can I get with Gardner Minshew more? How can I help these young receivers that are coming in?'
"DJ was a guy that came out the first year and excelled on special teams. He might've been one of the best [special teams] players in the league. Then the following year he really did well playing the position we drafted him for in special teams, but if we said to go out there and be a gunner, he would do it. He would do whatever it takes to help the team.
"When players talk about that, it's refreshing in an era where you see a lot of individualism."
Chark, who caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns last season, will enter the season as the focal point of a receiving corps that includes veterans such as Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole – and that also will feature second-round selection Laviska Shenault Jr. and fifth-round selection Collin Johnson.
"The way I view leadership is a little different," he said. "I don't really like being the guy to appoint myself to leadership. I feel like real leaders shouldn't always want to be the leader, if that makes sense. But I understand the situation that I'm in. I understand young guys come in; they look at the roster and realize, 'Hey, I'm in a room with a Pro Bowl receiver.'
"But honestly, I'm still looking at [Jaguars wide receivers] Coach [Keenan] McCardell because he's done it multiple times. I'm looking at Coach McCardell as the leader for me. I also still look at Chris Conley does well, things Cole does well and things Dede does well … I'm just trying to make myself a better player."
Chark said he doubts he will be "the guy calling meetings."
"If it's something that's in my heart, I'm going to speak on it, but other than that I'm just here playing football," he said.
Cole said he likes what he has seen from Laviska Shenault, and that he wants to help both Shenault and Collin Johnson flourish as rookies. He also spoke extensively Friday about his relationship with Minshew. The two young players had adjacent lockers as they emerged last season as two of the league's more exciting players at their positions.
"I love Gardner," Chark said. "Anytime I have a suggestion or anything, he's willing to listen. If he has a suggestion, I'm willing to listen. He worked with me on my strengths and my weaknesses. He's a confident guy and a good guy to be around."
Chark, too, spoke highly of Gruden as camp opens. He said he likes the spacing of receivers within the scheme and sounded like a player confident in what's to come.
"Getting to know Coach Gruden, I like the fact that he's aggressive," Chark said. "His scheme and offense were pretty easy for me to learn in Year Three. I talked to Gardner yesterday about it. I asked him is the offense tailored to his strengths. He's very confident about that, which is good. If he's happy and he's comfortable, that makes everybody else comfortable.
"With the addition of Coach Gruden, I think we'll be in pretty good shape."