It’s tough to undergo so many changes within a short period of time for a football player.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault hasn’t known much stability within his football career, set to play under his sixth offensive coordinator or co-offensive coordinator since 2017.
At Colorado, Shenault took plays from Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lidgren (2017), Chiaverini and Klayton Adams (2018) and Jay Johnson (2019) with Chiaverini reverting to just a WR coach and assistant head coach that season.
In Jacksonville, Shenault has played under three offensive coordinators, including Jay Gruden (2020), Darrell Bevell (2021) and now Press Taylor.
Ultimately, Shenault’s play left something to be desired last season, as did the entire Jaguars offense that struggled under the leadership of the team’s previous head coach, Urban Meyer. Shenault was able to haul in 63 passes for 619 passes and zero touchdowns. He carried the ball just 11 times for 41 yards.
His talents aren’t lost on Jaguars’ coaches, however, and he’s built up a sort of intrigue and excitement that also carries some mystery. Jaguars' coaches understand and know that he is a good player, they just need to figure out how to use him.
“There’s not a lot of receivers that are 220, 230, the range that Laviska [Shenault Jr.] is, and as dynamic as a ball carrier as he can be,” Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor said earlier this month when asked about Shenault.
“Again, like you said, he’s played a lot of different roles. He’s been put in a lot of different positions. He’s played for a lot of different coordinators, and that’s a lot of guys. You’d love to be able to see a guy with continuity in a system and how he evolves as he learns it and masters it and really moves forward with that, and he really hasn’t been fortunate to be in that kind of situation yet with his career.”
That type of volatile environment that Shenault has grown accustomed to was mentioned previously, how many offensive coordinators and head coaches he’s had can affect his development. Coaches have tried to use him in the backfield, but ultimately Taylor wants to maximize the third-year receiver to be the best version of himself he can be.
As for Shenault, he just wants to get better. Instead of drowning out the negativity, he uses it as motivation, not shying away from those who may not believe in him following a down season.
“I’m here to get better,” Shenault said earlier this month at mandatory minicamp. “I like hearing the bad stuff, it makes me work hard. And I’m not one of those guys that like, I can’t see social media because it might affect me or whatever ... I want to hear it, it makes me better.”
Though the Jaguars gave its veterans the minicamp off, Shenault was among vets participating, recovering from an injury. Shenault had dealt with a hamstring injury for a portion of camp.
Shenault is entering an offense that might be one of the most stable he’s been in. Having an offensive-minded head coach for the first time in his NFL career, at least when it comes to calling the plays, is huge. The offense, he and coaches hope, will help build off of what he already does well.
“I think I think one, having a very offensive-minded head coach helps out big time,” Shenault said.
“And then [offensive coordinator] Press Taylor, he’s good at what he [does]. I like the way he’s schemes things up. I think it’ll be definitely a good thing for me because of how good he is scheming. You see what he did over there with the Colts and stuff. So I’m ready. I’m ready to see how it [goes].”
Another important figure within the Jaguars’ coaching staff for Shenault is his wide receivers coach, Chris Jackson. For Shenault, Jackson’s teaching style and allowing the players to be themselves is what’s important.
“I like the way Coach teaches things,” he said of Jackson. “He’s letting you be you. Of course, giving us the details on how to do things, but just be you. I think that helps the receiver because, you know, me myself, I’m a thinker. So, to be able to know I can just be myself, helps a lot.”
Jackson has reiterated that, too. When speaking with the media during an availability in June, Jackson was asked about Shenault, and what the receiver’s mindset might be heading into year three, a pivotal year of development for young receivers.
“My conversation from day one with Laviska is just how I can be of assistance to him,” Jackson said. “He’s basically told me with his own words he had a great rookie year, you know, he felt like he didn’t have the year he wanted to have year two.
“So he wants to have a good year three. So part of our conversation is coming in and all of us learning the same system, communicating, being honest with one another, you know, holding each other accountable.”
Shenault might be a bit different than veteran players like Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and especially Marvin Jones, who have played in multiple offenses already in their careers for years now. For Shenault, while he’s played in two different offenses, the learning curve as a receiver is steep, and he’s still working to figure everything out.
Still, Jackson said, the one thing about Shenault the team won’t have to worry about is how hard he works. “He’s another one you have to protect them from themselves,” Jackson said.
“So for Laviska, he’s kind of learning this for the first time, you know, this is a new coaching staff, new thing. This might be my second time going through it, so he’s just trying to pick it up. And he leads differently and doesn’t really talk a whole lot of meetings.
“But when he’s on that field, as you guys have seen when the ball is in his hands, he turns into a completely different person.”
Shenault, 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, is one of the more unique receivers in the NFL. He has the build of a running back with the speed and quickness of a receiver, a blend that is hard to match up against. It’s a “perfect package,” Jackson says.
The third-year receiver is trying to hone in on the latter part of that this year, with a new motivation heading into this season in increasing his speed and quickness, whereas before he was focused on continuing to build on his strength.
In order to do that, Shenault has been working with a track coach.
“This year I had a different motive,” he explained. “Less lifting, more moving. I feel like I lost a lot of my quickness. Now I feel like not doing so much lifting and not doing the same thing I was doing, I feel like now I can move better, and all those types of things. So, just trying to get back to myself. You know, it’s just part of the process.”
That process will help Shenault move forward as he looks to capture more of what made him such an intriguing player during his rookie season. That also comes with some new territory of potentially becoming one of the team’s punt returners, a job he’s willing to do, even if he hasn’t done it before.
“Like I said, I’m an athlete. I’m here to do whatever helps the team the most.”
Having a re-charged Shenault will certainly help the team this season.