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2014 OTAs: Depth chart not Stanzi’s concern

Posted Jun 4, 2014

Jaguars QB Ricky Stanzi: “My job is to show up, play quarterback and focus.”


JACKSONVILLE – Ricky Stanzi knows he’s not the main quarterback story.

Shoot, Stanzi knows he’s not the Jaguars’ secondary quarterback story this offseason, either. Not with a No. 3-drafted quarterback around, and not with a veteran starter around, too.

But if that’s Stanzi’s reality, that’s OK. There’s plenty he likes about his situation – plenty of areas on which he’s focusing – and worrying about the storylines?

He stopped doing that a while back.

“It’s natural when you’re in this profession to think about, ‘What is their plan?’” Stanzi said this week at Jaguars 2014 organized team activities, which continue with an open-to-the-public practice at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields Thursday at 10:50 a.m.

“You have to break what’s natural. You cannot think about that. Because it’s not in your control.”

Blake Bortles. Chad Henne. The Jaguars selected the former with the No. 3 overall selection last month in the 2014 NFL Draft, and the latter is expected to start the season.

Still, if you think that means Stanzi can’t stand out, you’re wrong.

Stanzi absolutely showed up in the first week of OTAs, enough so that Jaguars Head Coach Bradley said Stanzi had surprised coaches and showed significantly better ownership of the team’s offense and principles.

Bradley discussed Stanzi further Tuesday.

“I know he had a really good offseason,” Bradley said. “Some of the things we had vision of him working on, you can tell he put some time into it in the offseason. He’s in a tough situation with the number of reps he gets, but what I like about him is when he gets in there, he has command of the offense.”

Stanzi, who played collegiately at Iowa, said he didn’t care about surprising people as much as improving his game. That was his focus this offseason, and something he did from the ground up. Literally.

“I really wanted to get back to throwing like myself,” he said. “I wanted to stop thinking so much about it, and get back to what’s natural for me.”

That meant working on fundamentals, footwork and balance.

“It kind of started there, and went up to my throwing motion,” Stanzi said. “My mentality was to work on my feet, try to get my drops as quick as possible, try to stay balanced. That’s helped me a lot, to play like I play, and play in the system.”

One thing Stanzi said he hasn’t thought much about is where he fits into Jaguars’ future, or what the team’s offseason moves mean for him.

Stanzi, originally a fifth-round selection by Kansas City in the 2011 NFL Draft, joined the Jaguars off waivers shortly before last season. He spent much of last season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Henne and Blaine Gabbert.

He then remained on the roster this offseason while the Jaguars made a flurry of quarterback moves, first trading Gabbert to San Francisco, then re-signing Henne to be the starter, drafting Bortles to be the future at the position, signing Stephen Morris as a rookie free agent and releasing Matt Scott, a rookie who spent last season on the practice squad.

Stanzi said the Jaguars didn’t communicate their plans to him throughout the process, but he said that was OK. He really didn’t expect them to do so.

“I didn’t talk to anybody,” he said. “I just came to work. I’m not going to ask them what they think. That’s not my job. My job is to show up, play quarterback and focus. You can read between the lines and things like that, but you work what you can work on and not worry about much else.

Bradley has said since the draft that the time to figure out the details of the quarterback position is in the future. The plan is for Henne to start, and for Bortles to develop at his own pace. Whether that means Stanzi being a backup, or No. 3, or whether he’s in Jacksonville at all …

The Jaguars don’t know yet. Stanzi doesn’t either and he said that’s OK.

“To continually think about something you have no answer to – there’s really no point,” he said. “You’re going to bang your head against the wall and that time you’re banging your head against the wall, you could be in the playbook actually getting better at something. If something does happen and you have to go in, you have to be ready to go in.”

Stanzi figures whatever happens he’s more ready than he would have been last season. That’s how it’s supposed to be – continued improvement – and he also said he believes he’ll benefit from playing in Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch’s offense a second consecutive year.

That’s the first time he’s been in that situation in the NFL, having played in four offenses his first three NFL seasons. He played in two his first two seasons in Kansas City, learned another under new head coach Andy Reid last offseason  then learned Fisch’s upon arriving in Jacksonville last season.

“I just got to refresh,” he said. “You can learn an offense in a quick amount of time, but that next level of learning where it’s (snaps his fingers) – that quick – that’s nice. That brings you back to where you’re in college and you’re in your third year and you don’t have to think about it.”

And while Stanzi said he understands that many people would find his situation odd – working daily with little idea of what the future holds – in his situation, it’s the only way that really makes sense.

“It’s weird to a lot of people,” he said, “but you don’t have an answer as a player. That’s what you’re told from the second you get to college: focus on what you can control, then work on those things and not put energy and time into thinking about things you can’t control. It’s not going to help.

“There is no answer, so you can’t sit there and think about it.”

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