He has had success, and in the last six months, he has done what he set out to do.
Blake, the Jaguars’ rookie safety, said that’s not his nature, and he said he knows from experience – and from his coaches – that in the NFL, comfort is no commodity.
“I know this is a performance business, and you have to perform, especially for someone who’s a free-agent rookie,” Blake said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-5) prepared to play the Green Bay Packers (4-3) at Lambeau Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
“It’s like (coach) Mel (Tucker) says, ‘You compete to play and compete to stay,’ and that’s what I go into every aspect of football thinking.”
Blake, a rookie from Texas-El Paso who signed as a free agent shortly after the 2012 NFL Draft, has been one of the surprise success stories on the Jaguars this season, earning a spot on the roster during training camp and playing a key special teams role since.
Blake said he played special teams in high school, but said “for some reason, it didn’t feel that important.” That changed at UTEP, where it was a priority and where he blocked two punts as a senior even while starting the final two seasons at cornerback.
“Playing special teams is nothing new to me,” he said. “I enjoy playing special teams for the most part. Being on special teams is another play on defense, so I take it seriously,”
Blake has emerged as a quality “gunner” opposite rookie
“I think it might be a mixture of both,” Blake said. “If I don’t have the speed, then I won’t get there. I really feel like as long as you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, you’ll be in your spot. If the play is meant for you to make it, you’ll make it.”
Blake has shown that knack consistently. He emerged as a favorite to make the roster in preseason when he recovered two fumbled punt returns in the preseason opener against the Giants, and he played well enough thereafter to solidify a roster sport entering the season.
He has made at least one tackle in four of the team’s six games, and this past Sunday, he recovered an onside kick by the Jaguars against Oakland.
“Even before the draft, they let me know, ‘Even if you are drafted, if you’re not a high draft pick, special teams is the way you have to make it initially,’” Blake said. “I just knew that was going to have to be my way. I knew I was going to have to do it to my fullest capability.
“I knew coming into the NFL nothing was guaranteed, and I knew nothing is ever what you think it is. I was just taking everything one step at a time, one day at a time.”
In other Jaguars news Thursday:
* Bratkowski said a major reason for the team’s 1-of-15 performance on third downs Sunday was being in too many third-and-long situations. “I looked down at my call sheet as we were approaching overtime and I had not used one of my calls that I had for 3rd-and-2 through 5,” Bratkowski said. “That right there kind of told me what part of the problem was. We have to do better in that. The players know that. We’re working hard to correct it and fix it.”
* Wide receiver
* Also Thursday, cornerback