Quarterback Ryan Nassib was driving home from his little brother's college football game when he received a call from the Jaguars. He was asked to come down to Jacksonville for a workout and he eventually signed with the team.
"I couldn't be more excited," Nassib said Wednesday.
Nassib has experience with Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and offensive line coach Pat Flaherty. He also played for football executive Tom Coughlin with the New York Giants.
Nassib's Syracuse and Giants connections probably played a key role in the Jaguars' decision to sign him. Those experiences and relationships have also helped him get situated over the last few days.
"I think it helps a lot," Nassib said. "Having familiarity in this league is definitely a huge help, but I haven't worked with them in a few years. They've changed, I've changed, so [there is] definitely still a learning process that's going to take place."
The fifth-year quarterback said he didn't have other options after being released by the New Orleans Saints earlier this month.
Nassib has only thrown 10 regular season passes during his NFL career. He has been forced to figure out the game from the sidelines. Those mental reps may help him in his role as the Jaguars' third-string quarterback.
"Mental are reps are huge," Nassib said. "Obviously, backups don't get a lot of reps in practice, so that's pretty much all you have. That's kind of the time where you see what's going on and after practice you make the throws on your own and then you just visualize. Being able to visualize those kind of reps is definitely huge in your progression as a player."
It is unclear whether or not Nassib will be active when the Jaguars face the Baltimore Ravens in London on Sunday. However, if starting quarterback Blake Bortles struggles over the next few weeks, the Jaguars will have another quarterback on the roster to lean on.
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Veterans know what to expect in London
The Jaguars have several players who have made the trip overseas for the International Series. This is the team's fifth trip to London, so a majority of the roster is familiar with the grind of a long flight and a weekend of distracting activities.
"I adapt pretty easily," defensive tackle Abry Jones said. "You learn you need to sleep on the plane then stay up when you get there. That's how you acclimate to all that stuff."
Along with a time change and busier schedule, veterans have gotten used to the slick field at Wembley Stadium. The grass is known for being slippery.
"It actually really different," running back Corey Grant said.
"Last year, I had a problem with the grass being really slippery and a lot of guys did. That's one thing that you really have to be careful [with]. It's hard to get up to full speed on that that field because it's so slippery, you've got to change your cleats with special bottoms. That's one thing I keep in mind playing over there."
The slippery field doesn't just impact offensive players looking to run away from defenders. It can even impact the guys in the trenches.
"The field is way different," Jones said. "It's taller and then our cleats - especially playing on a soccer field with the spikes they've got - the grass is a little bit taller and there's more slipping. After a couple of plays, you catch your footing."
Canadian Ankou used to using his passport
Jaguars backup nose tackle Eli Ankou knows a thing or two about travel. The Ottawa native has been forced use his Canadian passport quite frequently over the last few years.
Ankou went to school at UCLA and has already been a member of two NFL franchises in the AFC South. He will now travel to London for the first time ever.
"I've been to Europe, as a child," Ankou said. "I can't remember much, I was in Belgium for like three days."
Ankou played in the first two games of the regular season for the Jaguars. He has produced three tackles.
The early playing time has come as a surprise, as Ankou joined the team right before Week 1. His work in Houston as an undrafted free agent is probably what earned him the added snaps.
"It's been nice," Ankou said. "I guess there's a certain level of trust the coaches put into me and I feel it's my responsibility to honor that trust and be able to play at my peak potential. Always some things to improve on, but at the end of the day, I feel really good being able to contribute and help out this team in any way I can."
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