Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey runs a drill during NFL football training camp, Thursday, July 28, 2016, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux
July 29, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) So much for bringing rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey along slowly following knee surgery.

The Jacksonville Jaguars wasted no time getting Ramsey on the field with the first-team defense during the first two days of training camp. The former Florida State standout and fifth overall pick in the NFL draft has lined up in the slot and on the outside, and made as many plays as anyone on that side of the ball.

''Yeah. I feel good,'' Ramsey said Friday. ''If it would have been hurting a little bit, then I am sure they would have limited me a bit. But since I feel good, they thought it was OK to throw me in there.''

Ramsey tore a meniscus in his right knee during conditioning drills in May. He started running a little more than two weeks later and insisted he would be ready for camp. Still, many wondered if he was being overly optimistic.

But there he was Thursday on the field with the starters and looking more like a knowledgeable veteran than a rookie in his first practice. He tipped away passes, blanketed receivers and even tracked down speedy receiver Marqise Lee on an end-around play.

''I take pride in everything I do,'' he said. ''I try to go hard in practice. I try to make them better and they are trying to make me better. ... I feel like one of the things God put me on the Earth to do is play football, so I am comfortable doing it.''

Ramsey is one of the key pieces of Jacksonville's defensive makeover.

The Jaguars signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson to a six-year, $85.5 million contract, the richest in franchise history. They also added ball-hawking safety Tashaun Gipson in free agency and got pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. back after he missed his entire rookie year following reconstructive surgery on his left knee.

But Ramsey might be as important as any of them. He has the size, speed, versatility and big-play ability to change games, and will be counted on to play press coverage earlier and often.

And he won't get much time to acclimate since the Jaguars need him to play a significant role beginning with the Sept. 11 season opener against Green Bay.

With third-year pro Aaron Colvin suspended the first four games for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs, Ramsey likely will get thrust in the starting lineup. Even if veteran Prince Amukamara starts over Ramsey, the rookie will get lots of playing time since the Jaguars expect to play more than 65 percent of their defensive snaps in three- or four-cornerback formations.

''He all the physical attributes,'' Colvin said. ''He's fast, he's strong and he does everything really well. And he's football smart, so that's going to help us a lot back there. He's the No. 5 pick for a reason. You expect him to come in here and do what he's been doing his whole life, and that's what he's showed.

''I only see him getting better and better as time goes on.''

For now, though, Ramsey just wants to stay on the field and out of the training room.

''Most people don't realize playing football in the NFL has been a dream of mine since I was 4 or 5 years old,'' he said. ''You make it there and you get so far and you make it there and then you have an injury. It is kind of like you get to your dream and then it is taken away from you. Just like that.

''It was tough on me. I had tough days. I was frustrated. I just wanted to play football. After minicamp, then the offseason came up, so everyone was off and now I am in there playing football again, so I am fine.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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