Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook; Sample Is Trying to Make Impression

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jaguars Notebook; Sample Is Trying to Make Impression

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

James Sample is playing uphill in his quest to win the Jaguars' strong safety position over Johnathan Cyprien.

Cyprien has the experience edge (44 starts, compared to two for Sample), and the coaches feel they are finally using him properly (close to the line of scrimmage).

But Sample wants to show enough to give the coaching staff pause and after a slow start, he believes he's picking up his play.

"I feel good overall," Sample said Tuesday after the Jaguars' first minicamp practice. "At the beginning of the OTAs, I was playing slower than I would like. But toward the end, I started to play faster and faster and got a good grasp of what the strong safety role is [about] on our defense."

Sample played strong safety at Louisville in 2014 and agreed he is returning home closer to the football.

"I like being down in the box; it feels more comfortable to me," he said.

The key for Sample is staying healthy. He missed the final OTA last Friday with knee soreness but took regular work Tuesday.

"Just a precaution last week," he said. "I didn't want to risk anything so they decided to sit me down."

Sample fractured his forearm last June and underwent surgery, which kept him out of training camp until Aug. 24. He started two of four games (13 tackles) before a shoulder issue ended his season. For a box safety, the real evaluation begins in training camp, when the pads go on. Sample is building toward early August.

"It feels like a really long time since I've played," he said. "I can't wait until camp starts, and we get to rocking and rolling."

BRADLEY'S VIEW

The Jaguars' first minicamp practice didn't look much different than their nine organized team activities the previous three weeks.

"It was good," coach Gus Bradley said. "I thought the defense struggled in 7-on-7 and then the offense went through a third-down period and the defense [played] really well. …

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