Jaguars DE Clemons returns to practice after 2-week absence

BY foxsports • August 17, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Chris Clemons has returned to practice after sitting out the first two weeks of training camp.

The 12-year veteran was held out while dealing with personal issues that prevented him from reporting to camp on time.

The Jaguars activated Clemons from the non-football injury list Monday. They also activated rookie safety James Sample, a fourth-round draft pick who had been on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from a broken right forearm.

Sample wore a non-contact jersey Monday because he has not been cleared to fully practice.

Clemons, meanwhile, was full go and could play as early as Saturday's second preseason game at the New York Giants.

"It's great to see him out there," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "I think there were some things going on that maybe were some distractions for him, but never about this team."

The 33-year-old Clemons spoke to reporters Monday for the first time since reporting to camp last month, but offered little insight into his personal issues. He believes the time off -- he also skipped all of the team's voluntary, offseason program -- won't hurt his performance once the regular season begins.

"Physically, I never felt out of it," Clemons said. "I don't worry about feeling out of football. They're working me back into it slowly. That was the plan from Day 1. I'm 13 years in. The plan is to get back acclimated to playing football. That's the plan that we got. They plan on bringing me in, and I just do what coaches ask me to do."

The Jaguars might have already parted ways with Clemons had it not been for first-round draft pick Dante Fowler Jr.'s season-ending knee injury. The Jaguars drafted Fowler with the third overall pick in April to replace Clemons, but the former Florida standout tore a ligament in his left knee in the first day of rookie minicamp the following week.

That opened the door for Clemons to get another year in Jacksonville. Clemons has 244 tackles and 66 sacks. He had eight sacks last year, but three of those came in one quarter against Indianapolis. He tallied one sack and seven tackles in his final five games.

"There's always going to be improvements from year to year," Clemons said. "It's not about looking back on last year. I don't look at it. I look forward to going forward this season."

Clemons wasn't the only defensive linemen to return to practice Monday.

Fellow starters Jared Odrick (knee) and Roy Miller (knee) also were back in limited roles after missing practice and the team's preseason opener.

"I think those guys are working back into it to where they have a chance to have confidence in what they came through, and I think it's important," Bradley said.

With Clemons, Odrick and Miller back, the only defensive lineman missing from practice Monday was tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. He had reconstructive knee surgery in January but hopes to be ready for the Sept. 13 season opener against Carolina.