Though it has been a confusing and uncertain journey for Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson, the coaching staff in Jacksonville still firmly believes in the former 9th-overall pick, explaining that he does want to play this season.
“He wants to play, that’s the thing,” Jaguars assistant head coach Charlie Strong said on Tuesday. “He’s going to do everything he can to get back and we’re going to everything we can to help him get back.”
Henderson has practiced over the past two days and has now appeared at practice three out of four of the last days missing just the scrimmage since his return to the practice field. Prior to that, Henderson spent all of training camp on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list, and the offseason recovering from labrum surgery.
Missing practice several times following his activation from the list, along with a very public acclimation period while coming off of the list itself, has sparked plenty of conversation surrounding the young cornerback, including whether or not he will continue to show up throughout the remainder of camp.
Still, while Strong and the Jaguars believe that Henderson wants to play this year, there remains uncertainty whether or not he will continue playing, taking a day-by-day approach has now occurred.
“Well, it’s just hard to say because today was his first day,” Strong said of whether or not Henderson would be back full-time from now on. “So, we’re going to have to work through it and we’re going to do everything we can to get him in position where he can come back and go to work for us.”
Last week, Strong and head coach Urban Meyer paid a visit to Henderson prior to practice in the morning. Strong says the two coaches simply spoke with the young cornerback, making sure everything was fine, checking in.
“Any time you have a great young man like that, you want to make sure that you do everything possible to help him and to help him get back on track. I was telling Coach [Urban Meyer], I said we’re out of the process of just trying to get guys and just push them aside. Our whole thing’s just creating value for them.”
Earlier this week, a report surfaced from NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan that indicated the New Orleans Saints were interested in acquiring Henderson if he were to be made available. While the Jaguars wouldn’t necessarily turn down a stellar offer for the young cornerback, they certainly still like him and want to see Henderson succeed in Jacksonville.
The team, including Strong, are determined to make it work with Henderson and football, taking all of the necessary steps to keep him focused. The first step, Strong says, is simply getting him in the building, keeping him around.
“But it’s going to be a step-by-step process and we’re willing to take whatever time we need to take to help work with him,” said Strong. “When you say focus, [we need to] just make sure that we can just get him out there, whether in the classroom or on the playing field, that we have him around us.”
The Jaguars have never felt as if Henderson didn’t want to play football in Jacksonville. Getting a player back on the practice field takes time, though, especially a young player who has suffered through an injury and is just coming off of the reserve/COVID-19 list.
While Jacksonville did select cornerback Tyson Campbell with the 33rd overall pick this year, the team did that with the idea of him complementing Henderson and free-agent signee Shaquill Griffin, not replacing Henderson.
“He’s a really good player and the thing about it is we know this; he can make us a lot better football team. Just to see him get around us and get out on the field and go to work was really exciting.”