JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Surrounded by a sea of defenders, Jaguars rookie wide receiver DJ Chark took a risk that would have probably ended his day during a contact practice.
He jumped, reaching his hands well above his head and snatched a football out of the air with his fingertips. He hauled in the catch as he remained in the air, flanked by the zone coverage moving in on him during non-contact team drills.
The play was one of many highlights for Chark during Phase 3 of the Jaguars’ offseason program. Working mostly with the second-team offense, Chark formed an on-field bond with backup quarterback Cody Kessler, who targeted the second-round pick regularly.
“Obviously, [we’re] kind of new, getting to know each other, but he’s a really fast learner,” Kessler said regarding his chemistry with Chark.
“His athletic ability is off the charts but the way he learns the offense and you’ve seen him grow over the last couple of weeks, understanding the playbook, knowing where to go with each route and where to be … He’s been great. We’ve hooked up on some deeper routes and he’s been a real reliable guy for me throughout [the offseason program] and it’s been exciting to get to work with him.”
Chark displayed the advantages that come with being a long, lanky wide receiver during the 13 workouts/practices open to the media during the final phase of the offseason program. The rookie routinely completed leaping receptions on passes heaved beyond the reach of the defensive backs in coverage.
Chark used the middle of the field and the sidelines to his advantage, as he employed his 6-foot-3, 199-pound frame to box out defenders and make impressive grabs. Kessler was the biggest benefactor of Chark’s massive catching radius.
“He does some unique things for his size that are pretty awesome,” Kessler said.
Kessler worked with playmakers like Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Nelson Agholor during his college career at USC. Much like with his Trojans wide receiver trio, Kessler believes Chark has unique traits that will serve him well during his NFL career.
“That’s just a real comfortable feeling for a quarterback, just knowing that you can put it up there and with how tall he already is, with his athletic ability, he’s going to go up and get it,” Kessler said. “He’s been making plays like that all throughout OTAs and camp, so it gives you that comfort feeling being back there and knowing you can get him the ball and it’s either going to be him or nobody.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.