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Training Camp 2020: "It's a dog's mindset…"

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) runs drills during an NFL football workout, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (Logan Bowles via AP)
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) runs drills during an NFL football workout, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (Logan Bowles via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – He's a rookie who doesn't necessarily talk like a rookie.

He doesn't necessarily approach the NFL like a rookie, either.

"From the get-go, it's a dog's mindset that you have to go into, every day," Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. said Friday. "I'm just trying to work. That's the mindset: just work, work, work."

Perhaps the reason the second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft has that approach is that expectations around him are a little different than for many rookies.

Yes, receivers often take longer to adjust to the NFL than many other positions. But Shenault is impressive enough at first glance that it gives you the idea that he can make an impact for the Jaguars quickly and impressively.

"We're putting a lot on him," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said this week during 2020 Training Camp, which continued Friday with a morning practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.

"He's an incredible athlete. I don't think you realize until you actually see him up close how big he is, how strong he is, how powerful he is. I think he can play multiple positions and it's just a matter of 'Let's get him off to a great start,' which he has."

Marrone said Shenault has begun camp catching the ball well, and showing he can get in and out of cuts quickly – examples of the physical traits that caused the Jaguars to consider Shenault a first-round-level prospect coming out of the University of Colorado this past offseason.

Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said Shenault might have been the top receiver in the 2019 draft had he declared that season. He was then slowed by a core muscle injury last season.

"When you do the research, you realize he's a guy that wasn't playing 100 percent throughout his 2019 season and still battled through it," Caldwell said. "You grew to like the kid because of his pain tolerance and his toughness and his competitiveness and how much he loves ball. Then you put that together with what he did in 2018 and you feel like you have a guy who is really going to come in and make a difference for you."

Shenault, who caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns in a nine-game sophomore season in 2018, also rushed for five touchdowns that season. He caught 56 passes for 764 yards and four touchdowns while playing through the core muscle injury as a junior this past season.

He said he covets the Jaguars' No. 1 receiver spot, but that his focus right now is navigating his first professional camp and learning at every opportunity.

"I highly doubt anyone wouldn't want the No. 1 spot," he said, "but of course, still though, learning from others, you never want to stop doing that. So, I'm definitely ears open, and I'm listening to my receivers [coach Keenan McCardell] because he's played 17 years and the vets in the room that have years under their belt. So, I'm always listening and they're always helping out."

As for his early impressions of camp and the NFL, Shenault said he likes the early "raw concepts" of new coordinator Jay Gruden's offense.

"It gives you opportunities to get the ball and just do things with it," he said.

And while there are plenty of outside expectations for Shenault as a rookie in that offense, he said he doesn't "really have a certain thing I want to do."

"My expectations … I mean, to do big things of course," he said. "You know … do things that rookies didn't do. I mean … make the Pro Bowl or be the Rookie of the Year…. Like I mean, that stuff is already [written]. I don't need to make that my expectations, it should already be known. My biggest thing is just gaining respect from Duval County and my teammates."

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