Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hard Road but Veteran Corner Jumps at Chance; Blackmon Overcomes Injuries, Makes Interception after Signing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hard Road but Veteran Corner Jumps at Chance; Blackmon Overcomes Injuries, Makes Interception after Signing

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

Jaguars cornerback Will Blackmon has a simple response when asked to recount his history of injuries in the NFL.

"You got time," Blackmon asks.

Unfortunately for the 28-year-old Blackmon, his answer lasts well over a minute as he details the adversity he has dealt with as a pro.

- A broken foot.

- Nerve damage in his knee from icing it too long.

- A cracked rib.

- A broken thumb.

- Another foot fracture.

- A torn ACL.

- A second ACL surgery after the first one was botched.

"It's been a ride, dude," Blackmon says in closing.

Blackmon, a seven-year veteran, has been healthy for the last two years. But, his phone wasn't ringing. Teams were scared off because of Blackmon's extensive injury history. He was out of the NFL during all of last season.

"I was good to go last year," Blackmon said. "If I'd worked out, teams would've seen what I would have done."

Blackmon was determined to get back to the highest level of football. He signed a contract with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League last December.

"I was willing to humble myself," Blackmon said. "I signed an Arena contract, because I was like, well, if this is the stage to show people that I'm healthy, then I'll do that."

Before he could play a game for the Rattlers, the Seattle Seahawks called and signed him Feb. 13.

Blackmon's stay in Seattle wasn't lengthy, but it gave him the opportunity he needed. The Seahawks, who boast arguably the best secondary in the league, cut Blackmon on Aug. 27. The Jaguars signed him a day later.

"I just thank Seattle for giving me the opportunity to put myself back on the map," Blackmon said.

Blackmon had his first chance to showcase his abilities with the Jaguars last Thursday in the preseason finale at Atlanta. He didn't disappoint.

One day after signing, Blackmon intercepted a pass, had two breakups and recorded four tackles. He also returned a punt 21 yards.

The Jaguars signed Blackmon to be a steady reserve cornerback and add reliable depth as a punt returner behind rookie Ace Sanders. Blackmon showed he was up to the task against the Falcons. He appears to have solved some issues for the Jaguars heading into the regular-season opener against Kansas City on Sunday.

"He fills a lot of voids for us," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "That was what was intriguing about him. He's a guy that can be a nickel. He can be a corner, and he can be a backup punt returner. We tried to school him up in a short period of time with what we do defensively. He went out there and, with all of the distractions he had, he performed at a good level."

Blackmon was able to pick up enough of Bradley's defensive scheme to hold his own against Atlanta.

Bradley was Seattle's defensive coordinator last season, and the Seahawks are maintaining the same philosophy. …

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