Jalen Ramsey Is Locked in on His 'No-Setback Offseason'

The Jaguars' star cornerback has never been able to practice with the team in the offseason due to injuries. But that all changes this season. Also, notes on how free-agent addition Andrew Norwell is fitting in, and who might be the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville this year.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For the first time in Jalen Ramsey’s three-year NFL career, the cornerback could finally to participate in mandatory minicamp. And he didn’t even need OTAs to get ready for it.

Ramsey returned to the Jaguars’ facilities this week after spending time in Nashville during the team’s voluntary organized team activities last month, working out with his father and brother. His rookie season, Ramsey was held out of minicamp while he recovered from knee surgery, and last year he had a sports hernia.

Coach Doug Marrone and the rest of the Jags staff are monitoring his reps this week since he wasn’t with the team the previous month.

“It was an offseason of getting back to the basics and doing what got me into the position I’m in right now,” Ramsey said Tuesday after the first day of minicamp. “It was also an offseason for me that I labeled ‘no-setback season,’ just ’cause in the previous two years I haven’t even made it this far.

A reporter asked Ramsey if he thought his teammates had an issue with him missing OTAs. Ramsey took a breath before admitting his was searching for the nicest possible way to say what he wanted to say.

“I don’t think any of my teammates had an issue because they knew I would come back ready, but at the same time if they did, I don’t think I would care,” Ramsey said. “I know what I was doing was the right thing for me.

“I did it [in a] respectful [way]. I wasn’t like, ‘F--- y’all, I’m out.’ I hit up people [and said] this is my plan for the offseason.”

Ramsey earned first-team All-Pro honors last year after mostly locking down every receiver he faced for the league’s second-ranked defense. I’ll have more on Ramsey later this summer, but for now just know that Ramsey looks as good as he did at the end of the season.

“If y’all thought I was good in the past two years then stay tuned.”

King for three months

New Jaguars left guard Andrew Norwell was the first big-ticket offensive lineman scooped up in free agency back in March. He made a splash with his five-year, $66.5 million deal that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

Just three months later, he has been dethroned. NFL Network reported Monday the Cowboys are giving Zack Martin a deal that will top Norwell’s, ending the former Buckeye’s reign atop the guard market after a quarter of a year.

“He’s a great guy and so happy for him,” Norwell says. “He’s a guy I watch on film. He’s got great technique, and he’s one of the best.”

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But you’ve got to care a little bit about not having the title, right?

“Not really,” Norwell says. “I knew it was going to come sooner or later.”

It’s tough to evaluate offensive line play in minicamp without pads, but Marrone said Norwell is a “lunchpail” guy who fits the team’s philosophy where it regards toughness. His addition should make the road even easier for second-year running back Leonard Fournette, who said he showed up weighing less than 225 pounds after playing last season around 235 pounds.

Who’s No. 1?

A wide-receiver depth chart for these Jags will probably do you no good this year. There’s no clear-cut No. 1 receiver, and that may partly be by design. The Jaguars have clearly decided they’ll be a run-first offense led by a quarterback who can’t afford to make mistakes, and all of them will be led by the defense.

For the first time since 2014, Jacksonville does not have Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marcedes Lewis. The decisions to let them walk in free agency have left the Jags with Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and rookie D.J. Chark as their top receivers (with Austin Seferian-Jenkins coming in as the top tight end to replace Lewis).

Moncrief, who spent his first four seasons in Indianapolis behind clear No. 1 T.Y. Hilton, said he has to know the whole playbook because he doesn’t know where he’ll line up on any given play. And he likes it that way.

“It’s more fun. You never know where the ball’s going,” Moncrief says. “With the different positions there’s not a No. 1 guy. Everyone in the room is a No. 1 guy so you never know where the ball is going.”

Here’s a tip: Look for Chark to contribute quickly and regularly to the Jaguars’ pass offense.