Past offseasons under Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio were sometimes referred to as Club Med. Del Rio has made it clear that this season will be different.
Players have been put on notice that jobs and roster spots are available. Several Jaguars were bragging about the energy and intensity of OTAs. The NFL cancelled the team's final two practices after determining that rules were violated concerning the intensity and tempo of drills.
"The intensity of what we're doing. … It's definitely different from the way it was my first year," WR Mike Thomas told PFW in a phone interview last week.
Thomas is in a position battle to take the spot vacated following the release of veteran Torry Holt.
"I think the biggest thing is just the sense of competition. I mean; you have everybody that wants to play a major role, which raises the stakes that much more."
Coming off a productive season in which he set the franchise record for receptions by a rookie (48), Thomas believe he's much more prepared to improve upon that production this season.
"Light years [difference from last year]. You can even see it in practice. … Of course, there is always work to be done, but I'm just playing with so much more confidence. Being able to play full speed because I have a better idea where I'm supposed to be."
If Thomas can stay healthy — he has been slowed by hamstring injuries the past two springs and admits he must do a better job staying out of the training room — he will have a good chance to beat out Troy Williamson and Jarett Dillard for a starting job.
At only 5-foot-8, Thomas acknowledges he is undersized, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in confidence.
"You look at people like Wes Welker and Steve Smith, and they get on the outside and get things done. I definitely know I can play outside, especially in one-on-one coverage."
Whether he's in the slot, lined up outside, or returning kicks, Thomas just wants to make plays.
"I just love having the ball in my hands. It's kind of like a video game, just trying to make things happen, trying to make defenders look like fools. That's the kind of zone I get in."
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