JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jaguars safety Barry Church has been around the league for a while. The former undrafted free agent is entering his eighth year in the NFL, so he is used to the rigors of a tough training camp.
However, the Jaguars' new emphasis on toughness has taken some time to get used to. With the grueling heat of a Florida summer, the long days can lead to a bit of an adjustment, especially when you've been in a routine as long as Church was in Dallas.
Tough is the theme. Tough is the work.
“Yeah it is that and then some," Church said, regarding the demanding nature of the practices.
"Our schedule is pretty long and tough. Coach is just trying to get the most out of us. We just have to work hard and keep plugging away and just get ready for that Week 1 game against Houston.”
Despite the change of pace and workload, Church believes Jacksonville and Dallas have a lot in common.
“The culture is pretty much the same," Church said. "We have a real close group like we did in Dallas. We have a real close group here. We had a real close group, but I was just a little bit younger when I was in Dallas. I feel like we have a lot more talent than we did over there. We just have to keep plugging away and get ready for Week 1.”
Church's enthusiasm for the roster is shared by fellow new additions like defensive end Calais Campbell. Still, that optimism will mean very little if the Jaguars aren't prepared to play by the start of the regular season, which is clearly on Church's mind.
Church missed all of the offseason program with an undisclosed injury, which cost him some serious chemistry-building time on the field. Forming a bond hasn't been hard for the secondary, but finding the right chemistry will take some effort.
“It’s a very long process," Church said. "Like you said, there’s a lot of new guys in the defense, including myself, that are just trying to pick up the nuances of the defense, figure out the strengths and weakness and how we can play with each other. I feel like all camp we are going to jell together and become better and better and hopefully we reach our peak when Week 1 comes around.”
While forming chemistry amongst the entire secondary will take a while, Church and free safety Tashaun Gipson seem to already be on the same page. When Church signed in March, he immediately sought out a friendship with Gipson.
The two have a lot in common and their strengths seemingly compliment one another.
“It is off the charts," Church said, regarding his chemistry with Gipson.
"Once I knew I was signing here I reached out to him and we have been reaching out to each other ever since then. Then when I got here I feel like we clicked pretty [well]. He’s from Dallas. He is a Dallas kid, so we have a lot in common. We play off of each other’s strengths really well. He is more of a space roamer type of guy, type of free safety. I am more of a strong safety, coverage type of dude, but we play off each other really well. I am excited for it.”
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has been impressed by Church's leadership ability. The veteran's playoff experience may be an asset for the young Jacksonville team.
The head coach is also pleased with Church's ability to relay information to his teammates.
"Barry is a very good communicator," Marrone said on Thursday. "I think that’s important when you’re in the secondary, being able to talk. I think that they’ve spent a lot of time together. I’m just happy to see them actually out there on the field. He’s someone, actually you’ve seen it today, he jumps in front to the front of the line, and he’s doing those things. He provides a lot to that secondary, and we’re looking forward to him going out there and making plays."
Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye..
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