Wide receiver DJ Chark will be back on the field soon for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Pro Bowl receiver missed all of the preseason while recovering from a hand injury that required minor surgery.
Head Coach Urban Meyer told reporters on Aug. 8 following the Jaguars' open scrimmage that Chark had undergone surgery and had the break plated. The coach felt confident at the time Chark would be back by the opening game.
Meyer then said on Wednesday that Chark, along with Marvin Jones Jr. and Tavon Austin, would be ready for the Week 1 game. On Thursday, Chark confirmed he'd be suited up for the opening kickoff.
"Oh yeah, for sure," Chark replied when asked if he'd be ready. "Yeah I'm gonna be there."
Chark has been at practice since his surgery. For the first few days of his recovery he remained in street clothes and with his hand wrapped, encouraging offensive teammates from the side...and throwing some competitive shade toward his defensive teammates. He progressed up to individual work, and then on Wednesday, was back in the huddle for the first time in nearly a month.
"Early on, I came out dressed for the day, be running on the side. Yesterday we had practice, it was my first time actually in, breaking the huddle. Today the same and just moving forward doing that, running on the side is different from breaking the huddle," explained Chark on Thursday. "Running against the DB, resistant running, things like that. So there's still a ways to go but I have good faith in myself and my coaching staff to help me get there. We got like 10 more days, so we're good."
The Jaguars have surround Chark with arguably more depth than he's had in his entire career with the franchise thus far. The club brought in 10-year veteran Marvin Jones Jr. in free agency, and then claimed former Los Angeles Chargers deep threat Tyron Johnson off of waivers on Wednesday.
Even with the additional talent, Chark is expected to be a major factor in the new look Jaguars offense. With No. 1 overall pick, quarterback Trevor Lawrence at the helm, Meyer and staff are asking each receiver to step up their own game and stretch the field as a result.
Meyer has challenged Chark this offseason, asking him to become more physical, among other things.
“DJ is great — he wants to [be challenged] I heard someone say how can you challenge him [DJ Chark] but I mean that’s daily and that’s part of a coach’s job," Meyer expounded back in July. "There is zero resistance and that’s something that can make him better and he has worked hard at it. He looks great — his body looks great; his strength has really improved.”
On Thursday, Chark admitted how much that push has improved his own game, which in turn will help the Jacksonville Jaguars as they kick off their 2021 season.
"One of the things that they saw that they wanted me to get better at was releases, and driving, playing fast really. And those things help me play faster. When I play faster, I feel unstoppable."