The Jacksonville Jaguars opened up voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) on Tuesday and had near perfect attendance. Head coach Gus Bradley saw 89 of his 90 players on the roster show up, the lone exception being free agent signing and veteran Chris Clemons.
Clemons missed the first two days of practice, with the reasoning after day one a bit of a question. Bradley said it was a family issue, but didn't elaborate further and seemed to be perturbed by Clemons' absence.
While the NFL calls these practices "voluntary", they're not really voluntary. Players are expected to be in attendance unless there are extenuating circumstances, which quite often does happen this time of year.
"It’s day-to-day. I did have a good conversation with him. I feel much better about it," Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said after Wednesday's OTA practice, when asked about Clemons' status. "It’s unfortunate, I wish he was here, but I understand the reasoning. I didn’t have as clear of reasoning yesterday and that’s why I wanted to find out, but now I understand."
It appears to me, and this is just from watching Bradley's post-practice press conference video, that Bradley seemed not so much annoyed that Clemons wasn't in attendance, but more-so that Clemons didn't alert Bradley prior that he would be missing the OTAs due to some personal matters. That's a worthwhile gripe, but that should be about where the gripe ends.
Gene Frenette of The Florida Times-Union noted in his blog that the Jaguars should be annoyed with Clemons and he should be in attendance.
You'd think a 32-year-old veteran given that kind of money would make it a point to be here for his new team's first OTA, voluntary or not. Just make the effort to fly down here or drive from Atlanta, let teammates get to know him for three days, then quickly return home to tend to his family matter.
Part of Frenette's column is about how the Jaguars gave Clemons the four-year, $17.5 million deal in part to add another veteran presence to the defensive line, but... it's May. It's two-to-three practices of OTAs.
It's easy to say that Clemons can put his personal issues aside and come to Jacksonville for three days and then attend to them, but unless Frenette is privy to what those personal issues are that Gus Bradley didn't elaborate on, that's a lot easier said then done.
We don't know what "issues" Clemons has right now. Also, did I note that it's May? It's been two days of OTA practices. If Clemons misses the first three sessions, it's not a big deal. He knows what Gus Bradley expects, Gus Bradley knows what Clemons brings. He's an 11-year NFL veteran and three days of OTA practices being missed isn't going to make or break him, nor will it prevent his teammates from getting to know him.
Now, if this becomes a pattern and drawn out more than just three OTA practices, then we should think about wringing our hands, but at this point it's making a mountain out of a molehill.