|National Football League|
Blackmon practices after signing $18.5M deal
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon signed a four-year deal worth about $18.5 million Monday night and started earning his money Tuesday morning when he took part in his first training camp practice.
Blackmon must have three days of non-contact work before he's allowed to put on full pads and have physical contact. Coach Mike Mularkey said after practice Tuesday that Blackmon would not play in the team's first preseason game on Friday against the New York Giants even though he is eligible to do so.
Blackmon was the last of the 32 first-round picks to sign, missing the first 11 days of practice for Jacksonville (No. 31 in the AP Pro32). He's behind in terms of football conditioning, along with his route-running in a passing game that even Mularkey has said is not easy to pick up quickly.
"Obviously I'm behind and let's see. I'm just going to be ready to catch up," Blackmon said following Tuesday's practice.
Blackmon took part in individual passing drills where there was no contact, but once the team went to 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills, he could only watch from the sidelines.
Compounding Blackmon's falling behind on the field are some off-the-field issues. He pleaded guilty to an aggravated DUI charge on July 24 in connection with an incident that occurred two days after the Jaguars' mini-camp in June. Because of that incident, there have been questions raised about Blackmon's commitment and work ethic.
Mularkey said he shared that concern at one point, but since the June incident feels more secure about Blackmon's commitment to the team.
"I do have confidence because of what he did after his incident," the Jaguars first-year coach said. "When he left here, I was confident. Before that incident there were some issues that I didn't think he was working hard enough and getting it.
"I felt better when he left. Again, that's something I have to see as we go along. We still have time."
Mularkey had voiced concern with Blackmon's route-running and his knowledge of the playbook last spring. He said he'll be able to tell quickly how hard his rookie receiver is working.
"We will know by how fast his progress happens in this camp," Mularkey said. "I believe ever since the incident, his approach to everything he's doing on the field and in the meeting was different after the incident. That was a good thing."
Blackmon was a two-time All-America selection at Oklahoma State and a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. He set a school record with 19 career 100-yard receiving games, including a school single-season mark of 14 consecutive games with 100-plus receiving yards and a touchdown.
But he won't be able to get by on just talent.
"I think he will figure that out on his own. Once you go against our corners and corners in the league, you'll find out real fast that's not how it works," Mularkey said.
"He'll have to study, work at it, understand the guy across from him and what that guy eats for breakfast, everything to make it easier. Know the answer before the question. That's what he's got to learn how to do."
Blackmon's contract is structured so that almost half ($9.2 million) of his $18.5 million deal will be paid out by the start of training camp next year. He received $7.1 million when he signed his contract, plus a $390,000 base salary for this season. In addition, he'll receive two roster bonuses next year, $700,000 in March and $1 million in July. Blackmon will also receive roster bonuses the final two years of his contract - $1.7 million in 2014 and $1.3 million in 2015.
NOTES: Three of the best ever to play for the Jaguars - Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor and Mark Brunell - were at the team's practice on Tuesday. Boselli is a television announcer for the team's preseason games. Taylor is observing practices for a week to determine if he wants to pursue another career in the NFL be it as a coach, scout or in the front office. Brunell was there with his son's high school football team. ... Mularkey said DE Austen Lane, out with a foot injury, is now likely to be sidelined an additional third week. ... With OT Eugene Monroe still resting an ailing knee, C Brad Meester getting every other day off and OG Will Rackley out with a sprained ankle until the start of the regular season, the Jaguars have been plugging in various combinations along the offensive line. ... Kicker Josh Scobee converted all six of his field-goal attempts in practice, the first time in training camp he's been perfect on his six daily tries. ... Aaron Ross returned to practice on Tuesday after attending the Olympic Games in London where he watched his wife, Sanya Richards-Ross, win a gold medal in the 400-meter race.
Updated August 7, 2012