Being an analytical player is usually considered a good thing.
For cornerback Derek Cox, it might be too much of a good thing.
Benched in the opener against Denver after getting off to a slow start, Cox was placed on the inactive list and didn’t dress for last week’s game at San Diego.
It’s uncertain why Cox got off track after starting 16 games in his rookie season last year, but there’s the possibility that Cox, who played at William & Mary, might have spent too much time thinking about plays instead of utilizing his natural ability.
“I never look at intelligence as a bad thing. It’s funny you did ask that because I was like, maybe I need to stop thinking so much or stop trying to process so much so quickly,” said Cox, who is still listed as the starter on the Jaguars’ depth chart. “I still need to take baby steps. I can’t be trying to conquer it all in one game or overnight. [Get] small victories and let them accumulate.”
Asked if he saw things in a different perspective from the sidelines, Cox said: “It depends on what standpoint that you feel the disconnect occurred. Things that are mental, I feel like there are many approaches you can take to that. If somebody is overthinking things, maybe they need to take a step back.
“I’m all for whatever they think is best. A large portion of the game is mental, and if you do allow yourself to overthink things, it can take you off your game.”
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said he believed Cox lost his confidence and needed to “just kind of take a breath” against the Chargers.
Cox said he didn’t feel he lost his confidence, but he acknowledged: “I had a couple of bad plays, and mentally it kind of knocked me off. It happens.”
Cox is likely to return to the lineup Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, and Del Rio has stressed he hasn’t lost confidence in the second-year player despite the benching.
“We’re going to count on Derek to play good football for us,” Del Rio said. “I think he’ll settle down, and he’ll continue to work in practice, and he’ll come back and do his job and play his role and help us win games.”
The problems for Cox, who was expected to be one of the cornerstones of the defense after enjoying a solid rookie season, might have started when he suffered a foot injury in training camp and kept playing on it.
“I got a little sidetracked,” he said. “That’s just the nature of the game. You take on nicks and bruises and get banged up. So yeah, you feel at your best when you’re healthy, when you don’t have anything nagging.”
It might not have helped that Cox slipped out of his comfort zone when the Jaguars moved him to the left side when Rashean Mathis was skipping the OTAs. Cox is now back on the right side.
Cox said he is rotating in practice with David Jones, who started last week, but Del Rio isn’t ready to name a starter.
“We’ll see how practice goes,” Del Rio said.
Cox didn’t appear to get upset when he was benched in the second half of the Denver game and replaced by Jones.
“I told my position coach, ‘I’m ready to go back in there whenever you are ready for me,’ ” Cox said. “I had to go back in to help when we went to one of our defensive packages where we bring in an extra corner. I came in and made the tackle on that play. Just keeping my head in the game was my mentality. You never want to get into a panic mode, stay calm, cool, collected so that was my mind-set.”
If he’s in the lineup, Cox can expect to be targeted by the Eagles, who have a pair of top receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who’ve already combined for 15 catches, and dual-threat quarterback Michael Vick.
Cox is ready for the challenge.
“Showing you can do it with those type of competitors, not only would that be a good confidence boost for myself, but it would show a lot of people that, hey, he can compete with the best,” Cox said.