Rehabbing during a typical offseason is grueling. While many players do ultimately recover from torn ligaments in their knee, the amount of time, effort and patience it takes can be exhausting.
During a pandemic, resources can become scarce. Luckily for Jacksonville Jaguars tight end James O’Shaughnessy, he was able to be around the facility for all but around three weeks during the offseason, valuable time that is needed to make sure he comes back 100%. While rehabbing went well, there were still complications near the end due to the cancellation of OTAs and offseason workouts.
“Not having OTAs [organized team activities] was an odd thing for I think everybody,” O’Shaughnessy said. “Especially for me, since I had been around the team at the end of the season, but I wasn’t in every meeting, I obviously wasn’t playing. So, for me, it felt like two years since I had last stepped on a football field or had even seen football.”
While he led the team’s tight end group in 2019 in catches (14), receiving yards (153) and touchdowns (2), O’Shaughnessy was only able to play through five games before tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the team’s week five matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
“So, that was the oddest thing about the pandemic, where usually you have your set schedule, you’re planning this/that, you get your vacations in this time so you’re ready to go at this time. And now it’s all just on a whim, one week things are open, the next week it’s not, then everything’s not.”
Prior to the start of camp, and the NFL-NFLPA agreeing to a new CBA to allow for football activities to resume, O’Shaughnessy and other injured players were not allowed into the team’s facility for a short time. This, compounded with the pandemic as a whole, caused anxiety, “that kind of freaked me out,” said the sixth-year tight end.
“So, I was doing all of my rehab at home, working with different physical therapists, trying to communicate with the people here to make sure I was ready. It’s just—for me, every day matters, every rep matters, every rest day matters, everything matters for me to make sure I’m 100% when it comes day one, so I can contribute the way I need to.”
After a long, drawn out rehab process, O’Shaughnessy was able to hit the practice fields, albeit he did find himself on the team’s active/PUP list to begin training camp, something that “frustrated” the tight end at first. “It was just frustrating to see that (being placed on PUP) and to know that I set a goal and I didn’t get a chance to accomplish it,” he said. “But I knew that doesn’t change the real goal, which is to be ready for Week 1.”
Heading into his third year with the Jaguars, O’Shaughnessy will have seen three different offensive coordinators, Nathaniel Hackett, John DeFilippo and now, Jay Gruden.
"I've been with some pretty good OCs and offenses with the Chiefs and Patriots, so I've seen a lot. I saw concepts I've never seen before."@JOShaughnessy80 is impressed by Coach Gruden's offense. pic.twitter.com/azAhzANFJz— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 18, 2020
During his press conference O’Shaughnessy said the offense was “amazing”, breaking down what he liked about it, getting a bit into the Xs and Os. The offense has a west coast background, but incorporates a variety of concepts he’s yet to see before, even while being in explosive offenses such as Kansas City and New England in the past.
“From being a football junkie, enjoying the X’s and O’s to see the different ways he compliments each route off of another. You can see how we can go three different ways in a game and then hit them back and compliment off those—it’s impressive. And from the tight end standpoint, watching the film, studying what they’ve done with other tight ends, like [San Francisco 49ers TE] Jordan Reed, [San Francisco 49ers TE] Vernon Davis, Eifert back in Cincinnati. I mean, there’s a lot of optimism for everybody in the room.”
The tight end room is one of the best he’s been around during his time in Jacksonville, O’Shaughnessy said. A room that includes Tyler Eifert, rookie sixth-round pick Tyler Davis, Charles Jones and second-year player Josh Oliver. “We’re going to have a role and we’re going to have to contribute, not just in the run game, in the pass game. And do our best to make sure that we have a well-oiled machine with a true identity.”