Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Hawkins Back to Linebacker

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Hawkins Back to Linebacker

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL C. WRIGHT

This time, Brent Hawkins isn't nervous about switching positions for the Jaguars from defensive end to linebacker.

"Actually, things are going way better than when I first got here," Hawkins said after Tuesday's organized team activity session. "When I first came out as a rookie playing linebacker, it was kind of rough jumping in at minicamp and trying to learn defensive end and all the little things with it, not to mention all the little things with linebacker, too. Being isolated at linebacker right now, it's coming pretty well, I think."

Entering his third season after being selected by the Jaguars in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, Hawkins started his NFL career at linebacker before coaches switched him to defensive end toward the end of training camp. Back at linebacker again, Hawkins seems ready to finally make the transition successfully.

"When you're a rookie, you're nervous," Hawkins said. "So I think that's what made it tough for me at linebacker. Now that I've been able to get through a whole season last year, I think that's helped. Also, I've been coming out here and not taking life and everything else so seriously."

In 14 games last season, Hawkins notched 13 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks while playing defensive end. When Hawkins first joined the team in 2006, the Jaguars envisioned him assuming more of a hybrid role - which, by the way, still might be in the cards.

"Coming out of college, he had 17 sacks his senior year," said Gene Smith, the Jaguars' executive director of college and pro personnel. "So we thought based on his spring workout, when [linebackers coach] Mark Duffner worked him out at linebacker drills, that he had the physical movement skills to play linebacker. We thought that on first and second downs, he could play Sam [strong-side linebacker] and on third down, he could be a DPR [designated pass-rusher] in our sub packages.

"I think now you're seeing a guy where the game has slowed down for him mentally," Smith added. "He's processing things better with his eyes and his mind. So he's starting to resemble a linebacker who still has the capability to bring some rush snaps for us. …

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