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View from the O-Zone: "It's on me; it's on my shoulders"

Jacksonville Jaguars during an OTA practice session Thursday, May, 24, 2018 in Jacksonville, Fl. (Rick Wilson/Jacksonville Jaguars)
Jacksonville Jaguars during an OTA practice session Thursday, May, 24, 2018 in Jacksonville, Fl. (Rick Wilson/Jacksonville Jaguars)

JACKSONVILLE – Donte Moncrief hears it.

The veteran wide receiver has been around the NFL long enough, and he has been through enough in his time in the league, to know what is being said.

"We're getting doubted," Moncrief said Tuesday when asked about the Jaguars' wide receiver corps.

Yes, Moncrief hears it – and it doesn't bother him. He sees and knows what the doubters don't – that to watch Jaguars 2018 Training Camp is to watch a deep wide receiving corps with an intriguing combination of experience, youth and potential.

And to be a veteran in that corps is to feel good about that combination.

"We've got a lot of young guys, so nobody knows what they're capable of," Moncrief said Tuesday following Day 11 practice of '18 camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. "We're going to show a lot of people that room is very talented and we can play with the best."

Moncrief, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this offseason after four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, spoke on the final day of the long push that was the beginning of camp. Tuesday was the ninth consecutive padded practice, the third in as many days and the eighth in nine days.

The days have been hot and competitive – and while Moncrief missed much of camp's first full week with an ankle issue, he returned quickly to the high level he reached during offseason organized team activities and minicamp. He has participated in the last four practices, making at least one highlight reception per practice and faring well in one-on-one work with All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

That competition was evident Tuesday. Moncrief caught one long pass on Ramsey early in practice, and Ramsey made a spectacular interception while covering Moncrief later in the practice.

Players often talk about competition making them better, but competition against Ramsey on one side and another All-Pro cornerback – A.J. Bouye – on the other? That's real stuff.

"When you come out here and go against 20 [Ramsey] and 21 [Bouye] every day, that's the best competition you'll get out here," Moncrief said, adding with a laugh: "You can't make no mistakes. Your craft has to be perfect. You can't do anything that's normal, basically. Those guys are great. They're smart. They're tall and fast. Going against those guys every day, you have to be on your stuff.

"You have to come out and get better every day and figure out a way to win. If not, they're going to win every play."

Moncrief on Tuesday discussed the wide receivers in-depth. He talked about rookie DJ Chark Jr.'s rapid ascension, and praised the offseason development of second-year veterans Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. He talked, too, about the ability and necessity of he and Lee – third- and second-round selections, respectively, in the 2014 NFL Draft – to lead.

"There are a lot of young guys in the room, just taking everything in," Moncrief said. "Me and Marqise have to be leaders and show the guys, 'If you work hard, anything can happen.'''

While Moncrief signed to just a one-year deal, he is key to the team's plans at the position. His combination of height and speed is expected to make him not only a consistent threat to score, but to be enough of a downfield threat to draw defensive backs away from the line to open up the field not only for the Jaguars' short passing game but for running back Leonard Fournette.

Moncrief was that kind of player at times in Indianapolis. Injuries kept him from his full potential, and that is a major focus entering the season.

"Full season, stay healthy," was the first thing Moncrief said Tuesday when asked what he wants to prove this season, adding: "It's on me. It's on my shoulders. Just all the doubt that was given to me – I know what I can do and I know what I'm capable of.

"I just have to stay healthy, stay on my grinds, stay focused and everything else is going to happen."

Moncrief said he didn't get discouraged last week, and he said the ankle issue was something he couldn't control. He said, too, it absolutely wouldn't set him back from achieving what he wants to achieve.

"I just pray every night and tell the Lord to keep his hands around me, keep me healthy and keep my mind focused," Moncrief said. "I know if I come out here and play and stay healthy, I can make plays on anyone."

And that's how he has looked thus far when healthy in camp:

Like a player very much ready to prove what he wants to prove this season – and help a young talented corps of receivers prove their doubters wrong.

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