JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone had a couple of messages to players this past weekend.
One was that he knew some players might opt out of the 2020 season, and Marrone said he wanted it known he understood if that happened.
"We understand there are risks, and everyone has to make that decision," Marrone said.
Marrone, entering his fourth season as the Jaguars' head coach, on Monday spoke to the media via videoconference. During that meeting, he relayed his message to players this past weekend as Jaguars players continued the process of passing COVID-19 protocols and reporting for 2020 Training Camp.
His other camp-opening message?
That centered around ensuring players realize that the pandemic – and the rules that have altered the camp schedule to allow a "ramp-up period" – would make this a different training camp from ones they have experienced.
"I told the players, 'Hey, we're going to get everybody in shape,''' Marrone said. "Really, my main concern is getting everyone conditioned to the [safety] protocols. I told them, 'Take a deep breath. Let's go ahead and relax for a minute. It's not your normal type of thing where there's a high anxiety level.'
"I just want to get everyone used to how to operate and how to walk around the building. Later on, there's going to be time to really ramp up the football end of it."
The Jaguars, like most NFL teams, have had multiple roster moves related to COVID-19 during the early days of cap. Eight players are currently on their reserve/COVID-19 list and two players – veteran defensive tackle Al Woods and veteran defensive end Lerentee McCray – have opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns.
"I'll respect that decision and we as an organization respect that decision," Marrone said. "I wanted to make sure I conveyed that to the players."
McCray, an eight-year veteran, has been one of the team's leaders on special teams in recent seasons. Woods, an 11-year veteran, signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason and was expected to be part of an improved interior run defense. The Jaguars also in the offseason signed defensive lineman Rodney Gunter and selected nose tackle DaVon Hamilton in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Veterans Taven Bryan and Abry Jones are also expected to play key roles on the defensive interior, with Bryan having been selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and Jones being the team's most-tenured veteran.
"We drafted a nose guard high, and we feel Hamilton's a good player," Marrone said. "He can play in there. Abry can play in there. We've got some guys who can play in there. We'll see where we are. Roster-wise, you're kind of waiting to see what you have before you maybe look other places."
The Jaguars, in accordance with NFL rules, will continue strength and conditioning workouts and walkthroughs this week. Teams may hold non-contact, non-padded practiced next week with full contact practices scheduled to begin August 17. Preseason games will not be held this season.
*Marrone expressed optimism about the return of tight end James O'Shaughnessy, who on Saturday was placed on the physically unable to perform list to start training camp. O'Shaughnessy, a six-year veteran, missed the final 11 games last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in a Week 5 loss at Carolina. "I'm happy with where James is," Marrone said. "He's worked extremely hard. I would not be surprised if at some point during this period that we're in now – from now until the start of the season – that he comes off it, which is a good thing." …
*Marrone also said the team is being cautious with the return of veteran nickel corner D.J. Hayden, who – like Shaughnessy – was placed on PUP with a knee injury to begin camp. "We're just making sure he's fine," Marrone said. …
*Marrone also said veteran safety Ronnie Harrison currently is not with the team and is excused following the birth of his son. Harrison also will enter the COVID-19 testing protocol upon return. "That's usually a five-day window if everything is tested (negative)," Marrone said. …