Jaguars CB Tre Herndon on Pro Bowl Teammate DJ Chark: ‘His Stats Speak for Themselves’
Iron sharpens iron. Such is the case each and every day in an NFL practice, with each player being among the best at what they do in the entire world.
Getting to hone one's skills against players of such a high caliber is one of the best ways for a player to improve himself, and it is no different for Jacksonville Jaguars cornerbacks who have to compete against wide receiver DJ Chark each practice.
Last season, Chark established himself as one of the best wide receivers in the AFC in his second year, catching 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. The performance earned the 2018 second-round pick a Pro Bowl nod, and none of this surprised those who battle with Chark every day in the summer and fall.
One teammate Chark left a particularly strong impression on? Fellow third-year player Tre Herndon, who entered the NFL the same year as Chark. While Chark was a premium pick by the Jaguars out of LSU, Herndon was an undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt.
For Herndon, the chance to go against Chark in practice wasn't only a chance to improve his own play, but a chance to show he could hold his own vs. ultra-talented receivers such as Chark.
“When I came in as a rookie, we were in the same class. I knew he was a drafted guy and being undrafted, you kind of have to make a name for yourself. You have to show that you can play at a high level," Herndon said Wednesday.
"Chark was one of the guys that I actually tried to get in one-on-one reps in or when we do seven-on-seven or team, I was always hyped to be on his side because he’s a drafted guy and plays at a high level. When you can compete with him, it shows your work as well."
Entering the NFL the same year as Chark, Herndon was able to see first-hand how the talented wide receiver improved in his second season. As a rookie, Chark was mainly a special teams player and caught only 14 passes for 174 yards in 291 offensive snaps.
But in 2019, Chark elevated his game and ended up having the best season any Jaguars' wide receiver has had since Allen Robinson in 2015. For Herndon, Chark's breakout season as the Jaguars' No. 1 wide receiver was a reflection of the growth he has seen from the teammate he has gone out of his way to battle with during the dog days of training camp and practice.
"His stats speak for themselves, Pro Bowl this year. He’s definitely made a lot of strides as far as coming in as a rookie, being on special teams and then making that stride in his second year," Herndon said.
"Like I said, being a Pro Bowler, having a lot of clutch catches and being a main target for our offense. I have definitely seen him grow as a player.”
Chark will once again be leaned upon in 2020 as the Jaguars look to rebuild their offense around Gardner Minshew II, while Herndon currently has an inside track to start on the outside for the Jaguars' defense. While the two have come a long way since their rookie seasons in 2018, the core work ethic and determination to improve has remained with both -- as has the respect the two have for each other.
Each player will be pivotal to the Jaguars' success, so rest assured both will continue to push each other every time they line up across from each other on the practice field at TIAA Bank Field.
After all, iron sharpens iron.