This year’s training camp will present unique challenges, the season itself will be vastly different than any other season the NFL has ever endured, and the Jacksonville Jaguars rookies are learning how to adapt, in the building for the first time since being selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, players across the league were forced to take measured movements in order to stay healthy in anticipation for their first professional-league action. For both CJ Henderson, selected with the No. 9-overall pick and K’Lavon Chaisson, the No. 20-overall selection, this has been ... different.
“It’s been crazy,” Henderson said yesterday speaking with the media for the first time since being drafted in April. “We are learning how to adapt and live in these strange ways. I don’t know, it’s just different for everyone, so we are just trying to find a way since it’s new for all of the guys here.”
There are protocols now, players are expected to test everyday for the first period of the acclimation period.
Thus far, seven players, three rookies and four veterans are on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list, including rookies defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, cornerback Luq Barcoo and offensive lineman Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms, along with veterans offensive linemen Jawaan Taylor and Ryan Pope, cornerback Parry Nickerson and tight end Charles Jones.
With a virtual offseason, the Jaguars rookies have not been together physically at the facility, able to interact with coaches and pick their brains without having to deal with the technical glitches of using Microsoft Teams.
For Chaisson, 6-foot-5, 254 pounds, it’s been a “blessing” to get back in action with his teammates, in person.
“First and foremost, I am excited to be here,” said Chaisson. “The last time I’ve been on a football field was Jan. 13, so it’s been a long time, so being here is a blessing. I am excited to be doing everything we have going on. My main thing right now is just being in shape and taking care of my body.”
Both Chaisson and Henderson competed against some of the most talented players in college football, able to raise their talent level to prepare themselves for the riggers of what the NFL will absolutely provide.
While playing at Florida, Henderson feels his game will translate well. Both the Gators and Jaguars play a similar scheme, he says.
“It’s just a little bit faster and a little more plays but I think they have the same mindset, the same progressive mindset and they like the players on the same defense so it’s not too difficult for me to adapt to.”
Henderson, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds was one of the best cornerbacks in the nation while at Florida, and competed against some of the best receivers, including future top draft pick LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. Against Chase, Henderson was able to hold the receiver to around three receptions for 20 yards while shadowing.
“I think that helped me out a lot with the competition I have been against from day one in the SEC,” said Henderson when asked about starting in college and in the SEC. “I think that will help me translate my confidence and stuff like that. I’m ready to go out there and help the team in any way I can.”
Chaisson had an up-close-and-personal view of Henderson’s game during their matchup last season, and while he couldn’t say it loudly at the time, he was a fan already.
“Great player, great player. He was having a great battle with our top receiver and not too many cornerbacks could match up with him so once I saw that, I was a fan of his already,” he said.
“He was a nice player and just to see him at that game and go back and forth with the top receiver in college football it’s a blessing to have him on my team and makes my job a lot easier. Hopefully I can make his job a lot easier, as well.”