Things change quickly in the NFL. For some players, it changes even faster and that includes newest Jaguars tight end, Dan Arnold, who was acquired by the team via trade with the Carolina Panthers last Monday, just three days before the team would suit up to play the Cincinnati Bengals.
In speaking with reporters on Thursday, Arnold detailed the quick turnaround, something that he says just requires one to be “mentally strong.”
“I got called into the office in Carolina, like, probably 9-10 o’clock [in the morning] on Monday. And then got a call from the personnel department here. It’s probably like 10 [AM.], and they’re like,’ Hey, can you get on a flight at one?’ And I was like, ‘I can make it work.’”
In the NFL, you have to. Once you’re traded, there’s nothing you can do if you want to keep your gig. Now, Arnold would have to get ready, go through the team’s walkthrough the following day and get on a plane to Cincinnati on Wednesday to get ready to play the Bengals on Thursday Night Football.
With just one day to really prepare and only a few days with the team’s playbook, Arnold was still able to contribute with two receptions for 29 yards, showing off an ability to accumulate some YAC (yards after catch) in the process.
The Jaguars didn’t throw him a full playbook straight off of the plane that took him to Jacksonville, but they did give the veteran tight end enough to work off of.
According to Jaguars offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the team’s initial plan was to give Arnold just a few plays from the game plan to get his feet wet, but as the days went on, they realized he could handle a lot more.
Coming from a similar system in his previous stops, made the transition a bit easier, Arnold noted.
“It’s a West-Coast style offense here, which is kind of similar to, New Orleans and Carolina,” said Arnold, who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent with the Saints. “Like, structurally the play calls are similar. So, it’s just plugging and playing different terminology.”
While he is learning a similar offense, the one aspect of this transition is, of course, the difference at quarterback. Now, Arnold is playing with a rookie QB in Trevor Lawrence, having to learn the differences in how the young QB sees routes that are run by receivers.
That aspect of the game is something Arnold says he learned from former Saints QB Drew Brees in New Orleans. While he’s spent only a week and change with Lawrence, Arnold says that the Jaguars have a “real one,” at quarterback.
“He’s got a good feel for the defense,” Arnold said of Lawrence. “A lot more than I’ve seen in other quarterbacks that I’ve been in camps with and stuff like that,” he said. “He’s checking protections at the line, he knows what’s going on, which is pretty impressive. And I was, I was like, ‘wow, okay, you got a real one in this guy.’”
With another week under his belt, Arnold, 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, is ready to make an impact in Jacksonville. After playing receiver in college, the veteran tight end has a different skill set than a typical tight end, able to stretch the field, with some speed to boot.
“I think the biggest thing is stretching the field, being a vertical threat, being that big guy who can go up and make plays in the red zone,” Arnold said when asked what he brings to the table in the tight end room.”
Those are things that he’s done well, though, and Arnold says he will have to continue to hone in on those skills while still learning how to be a complete tight end, which includes the ability to block. There will be another opportunity for everyone to see those skills from Arnold on Sunday against Tennessee.
“I was pretty confident with the offense last week, and I feel like I absorbed a lot. Now it’s just the finer details, just getting to those adjustment checks versus different coverages and stuff like that,” Arnold said of his preparation from this point forward. “And just kind of delving into the finer details is the most important thing right now. And that’s just going to come with more practice and time.”