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Jags' Joeckel adjusting to right-side move

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Luke Joeckel is going through an awkward stage.

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His hand placement, foot stagger and set balance seem strange - all part of his transition from left to right tackle.

He might feel a bit off, but he looks just fine.

Joeckel has been downright dominant through two days of rookie minicamp, showing exactly why the Jaguars selected him with the second overall pick in last week's NFL draft.

He hasn't allowed a sack or even a pressure in team drills. It shouldn't be much of a surprise because he's going against undrafted rookies and tryout players. But it's surely a good start for a former Texas A&M standout, playing a somewhat different position for the first time in years.

``It's feeling a lot better than I thought it would,'' Joeckel said following another rain-soaked practice Saturday. ``My set felt a lot cleaner today and my first step felt a little bit faster today. It's going to be a process, but it's moving along pretty well.''

The Jaguars already have Joeckel locked into a starting role this fall, with hopes that he will help solidify an offensive line that allowed 50 sacks last season.

Coaches and front office personnel believe an improved line will allow them to more accurately evaluate quarterback Blaine Gabbert, whose first two years were filled with team turmoil and key injuries.

Adding Joeckel to a line that's getting starting guards Uche Nwaneri and Will Rackley back from injuries should make the Jaguars more functional than they've been the last two seasons.

Joeckel allowed just two sacks over his final two seasons with the Aggies, and for months after the season, was widely projected as the top draft pick. Kansas City, though, opted to take Central Michigan's Eric Fisher with the No. 1 choice.

Joeckel was admittedly disappointed, but he quickly put those feelings aside after going second to Jacksonville.

He also embraced the move to right tackle.

``I want to get on the field,'' he said. ``I want to help my team win football games, whatever position it might be. If they wanted me to go play guard, I'd go play guard. I definitely would love to be a left tackle in the future, but whatever gets me on the field is what I'd do.''

So far, the results have been positive.

``He has excellent movement skills, great balance, he's a very smart kid,'' offensive line coach George Yarno said. ``He's working hard. He's going to get better fast. He's competitive. Love what I've seen so far.

``He's so smooth, a fluid mover. He has great, natural balance. His lower body has a lot of power in it. He has a low center of gravity. He has all those things you look for in a tackle, especially. I'm really excited to get to work with him.''

The real test will come when Joeckel lines up against Jaguars starter Jason Babin and Jeremy Mincey during organized team activities later this month. Maybe even more telling will be his first days in full pads, when coaches and teammates will get a better feel for his physicality and toughness.

``He's right on track,'' head coach Gus Bradley said. ``Now he just needs to get more and more reps. It'll probably take him a little bit of time on the right side, but he will get it. You see he's such a professional already with handling it that he will get there.''

Equally challenging for Joeckel has been dealing with his newfound stardom. After the draft, he returned to College Station, Texas, and was mobbed for autographs and pictures around town.

``It was pretty crazy,'' he said. ``An offensive lineman finally gets his face on TV and now you're getting recognized. It's not a bad thing. It was very cool. I was getting stared at before because I was so large. But now I'm getting stared at because my face was on TV. It's a little different.''

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
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