Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach (62) and tackle Luke Joeckel go through a drill during an NFL football practice, Monday, May 23, 2016, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux
May 24, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Left tackle Luke Joeckel, the second overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, admittedly has no idea how the Jacksonville Jaguars feel about him right now.

The last couple of months provided a pretty good indication.

The Jaguars declined to exercise a fifth-year option in Joeckel's contract, signed veteran Kelvin Beachum in free agency to compete with him and now have him working some at guard during organized team activities.

''I don't know how they're really feeling,'' Joeckel said. ''But I'm going to earn their confidence. That's all that matters. I'm going to go play consistent, go play to the best of my ability and earn their belief in me.''

Joeckel was supposed to be the team's franchise left tackle, the first offensive building block of general manager Dave Caldwell's tenure, when he drafted him three years ago. But Joeckel has fallen well short of expectations, giving the team a mostly inconsistent 35 starts that culminated with the worst game of his career in the 2015 season finale.

The former Texas A&M standout allowed five sacks at Houston, showing little ability to block J.J. Watt or Whitney Mercilus. Those four quarters may have changed his football future.

Instead of heading into the offseason feeling confident about a decent season, he was saddled with lingering memories of a nightmare game.

''The Houston game was a terrible game, but I've moved past it,'' he said. ''It's something in the back of my mind. It's something that's help driven me every single day of the offseason. Just going to go out there and forget about it and go play.''

Joeckel considers himself a thinker, a guy who analyzes and dissects the details repeatedly. So in this situation, one in which some guys would rather burn the tape than relive it, Joeckel watched it several times.

Even while he was helping plan his wedding and honeymoon, he was thinking about that final game that overshadowed all the others.

''I definitely take positives from last year,'' he said. ''You look at the negatives. You improve on the negatives, but looking back on the year, there's a lot of positives I can take from it. I got better. That's for sure. Just kind of keep building on that and take a big step this offseason.''

It might include a position change.

The Jaguars responded to Joeckel's finale by signing Beachum, who is recovering from a knee injury, to a five-year, $45 million contract. Beachum won't be ready until training camp, which gives Joeckel some time to solidify his starting spot. Then again, the team has him working at left guard just in case Beachum takes over.

Joeckel had never even lined up at guard until Monday. Even though it's not what he wants - and playing guard probably would affect his future contract negotiations - Joeckel welcomed the challenge with an upbeat attitude.

''You know, it's a little new, but we've got to be able to play every position,'' he said. ''Every single guy tries to think that way. Got to just get better at every single thing. ... It's different. You're not on that island. I messed around with the guards (by saying), `It's easier.' It's good. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll do.''

The Jaguars gave up 51 sacks last season, the fourth most in the league. It was a significant improvement from 2014, when they allowed a franchise-record 71. But it was still a huge red flag that caused Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley to move guard Brandon Linder to center and bring in Beachum and veteran guard Mackenzy Bernadeau.

And they're hoping Joeckel will respond to the pressure that comes with competition and uncertainty.

''Just his attitude and his work ethic, he's really focused,'' Bradley said. ''Seems like a different type of player, not that he wasn't before, but he's out on a little bit of a mission it seems like.''

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