JACKSONVILLE – He arrived, he spoke and he made a lot of sense.
Jalen Ramsey as expected was The Big Story on Day 1 of Jaguars 2018 Veteran Mandatory Minicamp, with the All-Pro cornerback practicing with the team for the first time this offseason.
Ramsey, perhaps the best player on one of the NFL’s most talented teams, made news the past three weeks when he didn’t participate in the Jaguars’ 10 voluntary organized team activities. On Tuesday, he made news by participating in the mandatory minicamp.
Afterward, he made bigger news by discussing his offseason approach.
“It was an offseason of getting back to the basics for me, doing what got me in the position I’m in right now,” Ramsey said following the Jaguars’ first ’18 minicamp practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.
Credit Ramsey for this:
He understands he is a big story – perhaps this team’s biggest individual story – and he understood his minicamp press conference Tuesday would be an offseason headline for the Jaguars. He announced his entry into the Jaguars’ interview room by calling out, “two point oh” – his self-given nickname – and seemed at ease with the local media.
Ramsey, who has spent the offseason training with his father, Lamont, at Ramsey Performance Training in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, also understood this was a time to explain not participating in the voluntary portion Jaguars’ offseason program – and his explanation was sound:
He wants to be as healthy as possible entering a season he expects to be his best yet.
That status had been elusive in his first two offseasons, with Ramsey missing time in his rookie offseason with a meniscus injury and missing time again last offseason with a sports hernia surgery. Because of these injuries, Tuesday marked Ramsey’s first minicamp practice with the Jaguars.
Ramsey, who said he has labeled this a “no-setback offseason,” said he felt behind entering the last two seasons, and that he didn’t feel he got into the swing of things” until early in the regular season.
He said he is as healthy now as he has been in two previous offseasons, and that he feels good about that remaining the case.
“I’m ahead of schedule right now,” Ramsey said, adding “I’m very pleased where I’m at.”
Ramsey throughout nearly 11 minutes talking to the media Tuesday emphasized that he has spent the offseason working, and that he absolutely believes his offseason approach will make him a better player.
If that seems difficult to imagine considering Ramsey’s status as perhaps the NFL’s best cornerback, make no mistake about this:
He believes there’s room to improve.
And he believes that improvement will happen.
“If ya’ll thought I was good the past two years, stay tuned,” Ramsey said, adding “Once ya’ll see what I produce on the field, how I’ll be able to help this team even more this year, it will speak for itself. I’ll let the work speak for itself.”
Most Ramsey media availabilities have highlights; that quote was one from Tuesday. Memorable, too, was Ramsey wanting to delay the availability’s start until Jaguars broadcast media coordinator Max Hochman – one of Ramsey’s favorite Jaguars employees – took his place behind the jaguars.com camera. After he was told Hochman wasn’t working the event, Ramsey not only outlined his offseason plan, but also discussed the ability of the Jaguars’ defense to improve on last season.
“We can only go up from what we did last year; that’s the goal,” he said.
He also discussed the Jaguars’ Week 1 game against the New York Giants, referencing a potential matchup in that game between him and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
“It will be talked about a whole lot,” he said with a smile. “So, that one stood out [when looking at the 2018 schedule].”
Another highlight came when Ramsey was asked if he was concerned how his teammates felt about him training away from the facility.
“How do I put this the nicest way possible? I don’t think me and my teammates had an issue because they knew I was going to come back ready,” he said. “At the same time, if they did, I don’t think I would have cared because I know what was doing was the right thing for me. I know what I was doing was going to get me prepared. Once I put that out on the field, it won’t be an issue.”
Ramsey went on to say that he communicated his absence with teammates before the program began, adding, “It’s not that I felt like I owed anybody an explanation, but that’s how we vibe.”
Moments later, Ramsey’s first and only availability of the offseason was over. Yes, it was every bit a flashpoint moment of the offseason. And yes …
As is typically the case, Ramsey was not only entertaining, his words made a lot of sense.