JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jaguars safety Jarrod Wilson isn't afraid of a challenge.
He has come up big before, even when he has been overlooked.
Last year, he was the only undrafted rookie to make the Jaguars' initial 53-man roster.
This offseason, Wilson has to work to make the roster again. He also wants to find a way to receive more playing time on defense.
Wilson played just 29 snaps on defense last season. He was used sparingly in short-yardage situations due to his size (6-1, 209 lbs.).
The 23-year-old is now looking for an expanded role.
Projected starting safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church have missed all of organized team activities to this point. Wilson and teammate Peyton Thompson have been able to play with the starters on defense.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has been impressed by Wilson's play during workouts. Marrone believes Wilson could receive a bigger role on defense if he continues to play well during training camp.
“I think he can, I really do," Marrone said on Monday. "I think that from what he has shown so far. I think if what he has shown can carry over to when we put pads on, then most definitely. I think he has worked extremely hard. I think he is a player that has been here the whole time in the offseason. He has really worked hard."
Wilson has played in the same defense for over a year, so it isn't far-fetched to expect him to improve upon his performance from last offseason. Being comfortable is the key and Wilson has found his groove.
"Very comfortable," Wilson said on Tuesday. "I know that this year I've picked up on a lot of things quickly, just because we went through it again. Just the little things in the defense, understanding not only my responsibility, but also just the whole defense's responsibility and where guys fit. It's really come along this second season."
Wilson produced multiple interceptions last offseason. Those splash plays made him a name to watch for the coaching staff, the media and the fan base.
This offseason, he is working to improve his technique.
The Jaguars have talked about using interchangeable safeties. Wilson would have to play in a single-high center field role, while also being used in the tackle box to prevent big runs.
Expanding on his versatility will be an important task in his quest for more playing time.
"That's my game, playing interchangeable," Wilson said. "I'm not necessarily an always 'at the line of scrimmage' box safety and I wouldn't say I'm just a true free safety either or a roamer, but I can do both well."
Wilson has caught Marrone's attention, which is a key step in this process. The head coach claims Wilson has an opportunity to elevate his importance within the defense.
"I don’t think he has had much production before in the past," Marrone said.
"I think, again, sometimes when people aren’t able to go out there, some opportunity opens up – sometimes you get disappointed. You are like, ‘Ugh, maybe this person is not the answer.’ Then sometimes you are like, ‘Woah, wait a minute now, this person may be the answer.’ I think Jarrod has put himself in a position to be like, ‘Hey, this person may be an answer back there for us,’ which is great.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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