JACKSONVILLE – Brandon Linder likes this situation.
Experience. Continuity. Cohesion. It's all there for the Jaguars' offensive line – and Linder, the team's most-tenured player, sees it all as a positive.
"Everyone's excited," Linder said recently as Jaguars 2021 Organized Team Activities presented by Baptist Health continued at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex.
Linder as an eight-year veteran predates all other players on the Jaguars' roster, having been selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft – a few days before the team signed reserve guard/center Tyler Shatley as a collegiate free agent.
But while Linder is the most experienced Jaguars offensive lineman, he's far from the only one with experience. The group is by far the team's most-experienced position, with all five projected starters – Linder, left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jawaan Taylor – having been starters each of the last two seasons.
That's extensive continuity on a team that has undergone significant change at most other positions this offseason, with offensive line coach George Warhop also returning for a third season.
"We got everyone back," Linder said. "Everyone's excited. In that room, we truly love each other, and we truly are friends. We hang out outside the building. So, we're excited. We're ready to turn it up and it's going to be a fun year."
Linder added of Warhop, "It's great. It's always nice to build a relationship with a coach and not changing over every year having to learn from a new coach [because] everyone has different techniques and stuff. [Coach] Warhop truly cares about us, not only as football players but [as] men outside this building.
"So, we are all excited to have him back and it's just nice [because] we have a relationship with him and now it's just going to keep building."
Jaguars 10-year veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. on the team's use of a public-address announcer to announce upcoming periods and time remaining in periods – among other information – during practices under Head Coach Urban Meyer: "It's definitely different. It's something I've never been a part of, but it's pretty cool just because you know what's coming next because he's going to say it a hundred times. So, it gets you ready for all the energy that it's going to bring when we go to individual period and we go to team. He's yelling and constantly reminding us to bring the energy. It's something that's different, but it's something definitely that I like just because it gets everybody going, it gets everybody rolling in the right direction. It's been great."
This wasn't exactly the number Rayshawn Jenkins wanted, but he figures No. 2 is a good alternative. Jenkins, a safety who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Chargers in March, will wear No. 2 next season. He chose the number after an NFL rule change this offseason allowing players other than quarterbacks and specialists to wear single digits. "No. 2 was the first number I wore in football ever when I was a young fella," he said. "That's my first number ever so just even seeing me with the No. 2 on again brings back memories and stuff, so it's kind of cool that the NFL even passed that rule." Jenkins' first choice? Eight, which was worn by former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell from 1995-2002 and which is not currently issued by the team. "I know Brunell wore it in the past, so I was just like, 'What's the next number?''' Jenkins said. "They were like, 'No. 2's open.'"
Meyer on Thursday spoke extensively about Jaguars tight end Chris Manhertz. "He was a guy we ID'd early in the free-agent process," Meyer said of Manhertz, who signed with the Jaguars in March as an unrestricted free agent after five seasons with the Carolina Panthers. "You say, 'How do you help a young quarterback? No. 1 is you have a solid running game.' We had him as one of the top two-to-three blocking tight ends in the NFL. He's a guy who didn't play high school or college football, so his football is ahead of him. We think he can be a functional receiver as well. He's highly respected in the NFL as a blocker. He's been better than advertised since he's been here. We couldn't be happier to have him."
Linder on the Jaguars' culture in Meyer's first season: "It's completely different. Everyone's upbeat. Everyone's bring juice, bringing energy, happy to be here. We're just putting in work, trying to build that cohesion as a team and create our identity. It's just a different culture. It's just a new beginning, new coaching staff, new everything, so it feels new."