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Jaguars LB Donald Payne taking advantage of Myles Jack’s limited role at OTAs

Zach Goodall

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Dec 10, 2017; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Donald Payne (52) looks on from the sidelines during the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars entered this offseason with linebacker depth on their list of needs, but despite adding a linebacker Leon Jacobs in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft, they appear to be developing a key depth piece that was already on the roster.

According to Mike Kaye of First Coast News, second year linebacker Donald Payne has been receiving first team reps at middle linebacker with incumbent starter Myles Jack being limited during the voluntary team workouts. Payne, who was claimed by the Jaguars last September after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens last year, transitioned to linebacker from safety out of Stetson University, less than two hours south of Jacksonville.

Payne saw some snaps as a reserve in Jacksonville’s defense in 2017, but he saw the majority of his playing time on special teams. He recorded 13 tackles in 13 games.

This is what Payne told Kaye about receiving first team reps:

“Working with the [first team] is definitely a blessing being out there, so I’m just trying to maximize every opportunity that I get. I’ve been getting a lot of reps out there, so I’m just trying to improve every day … just show the coaches I can learn.

It makes you learn better because as a [middle linebacker], I have to know everybody’s position on the field, know what everybody is doing. It makes it easier for me, knowing [what other players] are doing, so helps me know what my job is. At the same time, it’s a lot of responsibility at MIKE.”

Payne seems to be maximizing the opportunities he’s being given, and Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone has noticed:

“I think he has done a good job [so far]”, Marrone said when asked about Payne after yesterday’s practice. “You can see he has picked up the communication. He has picked up the system well. Now, it is just a matter of when we go to training camp, can he get out there and actually make the plays? You simulate as a coach during this time of year. You see a player out there and you are like, ‘Oh, he made that play. Can he make that play when it counts or when it is live?’ I think that Donald has done a good job of putting himself in that position.”

Being that these practices are voluntary, news like this is to be taken for what it’s worth. However, Payne certainly seems to be growing and comfortable in this defense, and if he can continue playing well and taking advantage of his opportunites, he could earn himself a kep depth role in the Jaguars’ defense going forward.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars on the Locked On Jaguars Podcast and on BigCatCountry.com. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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