Prior to this year's rookie minicamp, the Jaguars had some rough luck during the annual orientation.
In 2015, first-round pick Dante Fowler tore the ACL in his left knee. Last year, seventh-round pick Jonathan Woodard tore his Achilles.
This offseason, Woodard (6-6, 287 lbs.) will look to once again follow in Fowler's footsteps with a healthy campaign.
Fully cleared to take part in the offseason program after more than a year off the field, Woodard wants to make the most of his clean bill of health.
Woodard is playing at full speed with his teammates. While there is no contact, the second-year player is just happy to be out their with his comrades.
“It’s been good,” Woodard said. “It’s just honestly great to get back out there with everybody. It’s been a long year just having to sit back there and watch. Just to get back out there with the team and run around.”
Coming from a small school, the Central Arkansas product was going to have a steep learning curve before his injury. The year off the field allowed him to learn the mental ropes of the game from the sideline.
Veterans like Roy Miller, Tyson Alualu, Sen'Derrick Marks and Jared Odrick took him under their wings.
“It definitely was helpful,” Woodard said.
The team moved on from Woodard's quartet of teachers this offseason. He understands he will now have to take what he learned from them and use it on the field for his own career longevity.
“To me, it just shows that we’re in a business and those guys never lose sight of that,” Woodard said. “I just know I really have to step up and show I can contribute to the team, because I know that they’ve been basically waiting a year to see what I can bring to the team as a player.”
The Jaguars are looking to build a new defensive line rotation. The team brought in Calais Campbell, Stefan Charles, Lerentee McCray and Dawuane Smoot this offseason.
Woodard believes there is still room to make his mark.
“I’m definitely going to have to come in to compete and hopefully make an impact on special teams," Woodard said. "But that’s something I have full confidence in my ability to do and I’m just ready for my opportunity.”
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