JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- During the past two regular seasons, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been among the best young defensive players in the league. However, his narrative for the past two offseasons hasn't matched his impressive resume.
As a rookie, Ramsey had a knee operation that caused him to miss a long stretch of the offseason program. Last year, Ramsey dealt with a sports hernia that also sidelined him during key phases of the Jaguars' offseason schedule.
Despite the offseason setbacks, Ramsey was able to produce at a high level during the regular season. An All-Pro selection, Ramsey was invited to his first Pro Bowl last season after producing 63 tackles, 17 pass breakups and six interceptions.
While Ramsey could have been content with his previous production, the young cornerback wanted to ensure his growth by avoiding injuries during the early stages of this year's offseason program. Instead of attending voluntary organized team activities with his teammates, Ramsey worked on his craft at his father's performance center in Tennessee.
“For me, I am trying to improve on all my game, really," Ramsey said Tuesday following his arrival at mandatory minicamp.
"It was an offseason of getting back to the basics for me, kind of doing what got me to the position that I am in right now. It was also an offseason for me that I kind of labeled as ‘no setback season,’ just because in the previous two years, I have not even made it this far ... So, I think I am ahead of schedule right now.”
Ramsey wanted to avoid the uphill battle that comes with minor and major injuries suffered during the offseason. Instead of risking injury, he worked on his technique away from TIAA Bank Field at Ramsey Performance Training.
Ramsey's father, Lamont, created a workout plan for his son with a focus on the cornerback's overall improvement. The younger Ramsey was able to manage his workouts and create his own momentum heading into mandatory minicamp and training camp.
He plans to return to the performance center following this week's three-day minicamp.
“Like I said, it was a setback in the previous two years," Ramsey said.
"I felt like … I am always going to work hard, but I felt like I was behind schedule, and I had to work that much harder. I did not really feel like I got into the swing of things until during the season, instead of hitting the ground running. It was kind of the first game, when the season started. I kind of feel like I had a lot of setbacks before the year and even during the year at certain points. This year, I am trying to avoid that. So far, I have been good at avoiding that, so if you all thought I was good in the past two years – then stay tuned.”
The Jaguars cornerback feels that his individual work away from his teammates will pay off. He is confident that he will improve upon his already strong body of work.
"Once you all see what I produce on the field this year, how much I will be able to help this team even more this year – it will speak for itself," Ramsey said. "I will let the work speak for itself instead of me talking about it.”
Ramsey knows the Jaguars now have targets on their backs after finishing second in the American Football Conference last year. Like his team, Ramsey has caught the attention of the league and he will be challenged on a weekly basis.
With those challenges only a few months away, Ramsey is focused on getting better. He will face the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Alshon Jeffrey, DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton and Antonio Brown this season, so his coverage will need to be sharp on Sundays.
"I can always improve," Ramsey said.
"I have not had a perfect game yet since I’ve been in the NFL. That is always the goal – having a perfect game and being as successful as I can be however it is. [We] have a lot of good receivers on the schedule this year. I am going to have really tough tasks throughout the weeks, so it is just being prepared as best as I can.”
More From Ramsey
- Ramsey on the addition of new nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden:
“I am very excited to work with him. I have not watched a lot of his game, personally. Just being real with you all. Everybody knows [Aaron Colvin] was my dude. I would have loved to keep him here [and] keep this secondary together, but that is just the name of the game. That is how business is sometimes, and I am sure D.J. Hayden is going to fill that role very well. Of course, we are going to help him as well.”
- Ramsey on his preparation for tough wide-receiver matchups this season:
“The first part of that is getting myself right, which I have been doing this whole offseason working with my dad and everybody back home. Once I feel like I have somewhat mastered making sure that I am prepared, I will transition over to specific guys.”
- Ramsey on his individual focus for the season:
"Whatever helps us win the games is what we will focus on, is what we will try to get done the best that we can. I don’t want to put a specific [turnover] number on myself or the team or the defense or anything like that. At the end of the day, it is about winning, so whatever helps us win the games is what we want to get done.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.