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Allen: 'Nothing has changed'

Posted Jul 27, 2012

With LB Clint Session out as training camp begins, Jaguars LB Russell Allen says he is ready – as always

Russell Allen doesn’t know what Clint Session’s future holds.

Neither does Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey, but with Session out for at least the beginning of 2012 Training Camp with concussion issues that began last season, Allen said the reality is his situation actually doesn’t change much.

He’ll play where told, and start if needed.

If that means starting for Session now and/or indefinitely, the four-year veteran who signed a long-term contract extension in the offseason said Friday he’ll absolutely be ready for that.

“In my mind, nothing has changed,” Allen said Friday morning after the Jaguars’ first 2012 Training Camp practice – a 70-minute walkthrough at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields adjacent to EverBank Field.

“To my knowledge, Clint is out for today. Honestly, that’s how I look at it,” Allen said. “I really don’t know what his situation is. This is the same thing I’ve done the last three years, filling in for someone who’s out.

“Until I know something further, that’s really all I can do.”

Session, who signed as an unrestricted free agent from Indianapolis last preseason, is one of six Jaguars players who will start 2012 training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said Friday.

The others starting camp on PUP: left tackle Cameron Bradfield, tight end Zach Miller (hamstring), defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (eye), guard Uche Nwaneri, linebacker Clint Session (concussion) and defensive tackle John Chick (knee).

But while moves such as Knighton, Nwaneri , Bradfield and Miller are largely precautionary, Mularkey said of Session, “It’s definitely a concern.”

Of Chick, Mularkey said, “It’s a pretty severe injury and we don’t want to rush that.”

Session missed seven games last season, and did not play after sustaining a concussion against the Cleveland Browns on November 20. He participated early in the team’s offseason program, but missed much of the end of organized team activities and did not participate in the team’s mid-June minicamp.

“I’m not going to give a timetable,” Mularkey said. “We’re dealing with Clint and not pushing him or anything.”

Allen, who originally signed with the Jaguars as a rookie free agent in 2009, has started 15 games, playing in all 16 games last season and starting six in place of Session. He is one of the Jaguars’ top special teams players, and while Mularkey said reducing his role there isn’t ideal, he said the team’s confidence in Allen in the defensive lineup is high.

“Russell has a very high trust level, works extremely hard, has been here every day and is excited about the opportunity,” Mularkey said. “We’ve got a guy who’s really confident but we’re also losing a special teams core. You can’t put all that pressure on him to do both, so it does affect us.”

Allen registered a career-high 76 tackles last season with 51 solos, and also made a half a sack, two forced fumbles, an interception and four tackles for losses.

“He knows all three positions, and he came in last year and did exactly what he’s doing now,” middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “He stepped in for a starter and played at a high level. He was able to compete, and that’s the same case this year. If he needs to be in there, we have the utmost confidence in him. We know he has the ability.

“He has the knowledge. We have absolute trust in him that he’ll be able to get the job done.”

Mularkey on Friday morning also said in addition to the PUP players, several key players will be monitored closely early in camp, including defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee), wide receiver Taylor Price (foot), cornerback Rashean Mathis (knee)  and cornerback Ashton Youboty (knee), middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (shoulder) and veteran center Brad Meester.

Knighton, whose status was an issue throughout the offseason after offseason eye surgery, is on PUP early as a precautionary measure and Mularkey said he will be rechecked Saturday.

“When they’re ready to go and say we can practice him we’re going to bring him back out and go with the wind,” Mularkey said of Knighton. “He’s done nothing to strain the eye. We’re going to do some things off to the side. He can’t hit and do all that but we can do more than he’s done in the offseason to see if we can put some stress on that eye to see it hold up before he gets checked out tomorrow.”

Mularkey also said he was pleased with Knighton’s conditioning. The fourth-year defensive tackle reported to camp under 330 pounds for the first time in his NFL career after reporting to camp overweight the past two seasons.

“He looks good,” Mularkey said. “I told him that this morning. I said I appreciate the efforts he’s made to get him to that point. It’s taken some work at this point. It’s going to take him as much to stay at that level. He’s not just going to work up to it for five weeks and ‘Ok I made it, it’s over.’ It’s every day from here on out. He’s got to maintain that. That’s going to be harder than what he just did.”

Mularkey also on Friday addressed the absence early in training camp of veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew, and rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

Mularkey, who said Jones-Drew did not personally tell him he didn’t plan to report to camp on time, said the pro Bowl running back will be behind in the offense when he reports, and added, “I don’t know Maurice well enough to know what really behind is for him.”

“I don’t know how fast of a learning curve it is for him, but it is a friendly offense as far as learning, especially the run game,” Mularkey said. “We’re not going to put him at risk of players and us. If he can’t pick it up fast enough he’ll have to work a little harder on some things.”

Mularkey said the learning curve may not be as extensive for Blackmon because the rookie wide receiver worked with the Jaguars in OTAs and minicamp, but he added, “Still, he needs to come in here and get as many reps as he can.

“Now the speed, especially with the pads on, and bump and run coverage, which you can’t do in the offseason – there’s a lot of things now that we haven’t been able to practice,” Mularkey said. “I know he knows that.”

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