Nelson Looking Forward

Out of sight, out of mind. That's Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson's thoughts about the 2009 season. As far as Nelson is concerned, last year is history, a thing of the past, something that he's put out of his mind.

And why not? It wasn't Nelson's best year with the Jaguars. That may have come in his rookie season, back in 2007. The last two years, Nelson has come under criticism for his coverage ability, his lack of tackling and his overall toughness. Last year in particular was a nightmare, where things got so bad that Nelson found himself on the bench for the team's final two games.

Ask Nelson about that 2009 season, and he flashes that effervescence smile and answers with a question, "I don't even remember, do you?"

Plenty of Jaguars fans and the coaching staff remember, however, and that's why Nelson is on the hot seat for the 2010 season. It's called improve your game or look for a job elsewhere.

The coaching staff even experimented with Nelson playing at cornerback. That met with little success. In the team's 14th game of the year against the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne with a 65-year touchdown pass in the final quarter that enabled the Colts to overcome a deficit and earn a 35-31 win.

Nelson was beat on the play, but it's what happened in the final 10 yards that had Jaguars coaches seething. He was running with Wayne and instead of trying to knock him out of bounds around the 10 yard line, Nelson tried to strip the ball from Wayne, but whiffed, allowing Wayne to complete the scoring play.

"You can't stay in the lineup playing like that," was Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio's comment after the game about Nelson's play.

During the offseason, the Jaguars made a run at free agent Darren Sharper of New Orleans but couldn't reach an agreement with the veteran safety who resigned with the Saints.

Then there was a blip at the team's minicamp when Nelson told a media outlet that he wasn't going to play cornerback or the nickel back spot again.

"I played corner. I played nickel. I am a competitive guy," Nelson said, but then added, "the way things happened last year, I don't think I'd do it (again). I will not do it. I tried that last year. It didn't work. I don't think it was fair to me. I would not go back (to those positions). You live and learn."

Del Rio's response upon hearing Nelson's comments was, "Reggie will play linebacker if we want him to."

The two sides obviously talked about it because Nelson now says, "I'll do whatever he coaching staff says."

Nelson appears to be back in the good graces of Del Rio and the rest the Jaguars coaches. He started working out in the weight room well before the Jaguars schedule called for him to be there. He added some weight which could help with the tackling.

Del Rio likes what he's seen from the former Florida cornerback who the Jaguars took in the first round of the '07 draft.

"He's more dedicated to his craft than he's ever been and I believe the time he's spending with (defensive backs coach) Cory Undlin studying tape, the time he's spending in the weight room, the extra time doing the things that he needs to do to give himself a chance to be a real player for us, that what we need," Del Rio said.


Jags Illustrated Top Stories