Looking for that blend of veterans and youth going into the 2016 season, the Jaguars are counting on Sen’Derrick Marks to return from injury, back to his Pro Bowl form. Marks returned for the final OTA on Friday, a little ahead of schedule.
“That is what is good about our staff,” Marks said after practice. “They don’t rush you back. They actually listen to what you have to say and add that with what the Doc is saying and what the MRI and everything is telling them and then they add it all up.”
It’s the second straight year Marks has come back from an injury. In the final game of 2013 he tore his ACL and spent the off-season getting healthy. He tore his right triceps muscle in the 10th game of 2014, ending his year a bit early.
“Yeah, this is not as bad as the knee,” he explained. “The knee was huge. This was all about strengthening and letting the tendon heal on the bone and just getting it back stronger. This was a lot easier than it was with the knee.”
As part of the defensive line rotation, Marks is one of the veterans expected to lead the upgrade in pressure on the quarterback. Getting back on the field was a good sign according to Head Coach Gus Bradley.
“It is good, I think just for his confidence,” Bradley said as he wrapped up the OTA’s. “He has worked to a level to where he has gotten himself cleared.
Anytime you ask Bradley about Marks he has glowing things to say. His respect for him as a player is evident. Particularly when it comes to coming back from injury.
“He’s good. I am not going to say it is easy,” Gus explained. “It is not easy. It is not. When you are a highly competitive person it is challenging. He remains one of our strongest leaders on the team. That gives you an idea of how he is handling it. He is outstanding, outstanding.”
Adding Malik Jackson and others to the defensive line might be just what Marks was looking for to increase his production. Asking any player to be on the field for 70 plays is asking a lot. So when there are plenty of options, everybody benefits.
“Well if you remember with Sen’Derrick we learned with him that when he has limited reps, and I am not saying limited down to 10-12, I am talking about 35-40 reps – he seems to run his motor higher,” Gus noted. That is something we are taking into consideration. My hope is to have a defensive line where you see us roll in and out. It doesn’t matter who is in there and to keep them fresh.”
When asked about the additions on defense, Marks said it’s a positive to finally have some depth.
“It’s even better that we have even better guys coming in behind us,” he explained. “We have a first group, a second group and a third group. We actually have good competition. For me, I consider myself as a veteran and as a teacher and we actually have guys that you can teach and will listen. I think that’s good.”
Marks is that “authentic professional” that the Jaguars have added to the roster on offense and defense. He’ll work as teacher as well as competitor, “making sure everyone is on the same page, no matter who is in.”
And his attitude toward getting back on the field after two years of injury?
“That was the only thing that kept me sane last year with the back-to-back injuries was that maybe I added a couple years to my career because I didn’t have to take all the poundings,” he said with a touch of levity and truth. “By adding extra guys this year I don’t have to take all the run reps. I think it adds a little bit to my body. For me, I feel great.”