JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is light at the end of the tunnel for Jaguars offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum and day by day it is getting bigger and brighter.
After tearing his ACL last year playing for Pittsburgh, the free agent signing came to Jacksonville with an opportunity to challenge Luke Joeckel for the starting left tackle job. So far the competition has been all Joeckel because the Jaguars coaches and staff have been very cautious with Beachum's repaired knee. But as preseason enters week three, it is looking more like we will see Beachum on the field before the season starts in September.
"I'm very close," Beachum said. "I don't know how close but I feel real close to being similar to myself, and that's a good thing right now."
Beachum went on to say how much this injury was a test of faith for him, on and off the field. In the locker room surrounded by media, Beachum joked that, "There are a lot of other things going on the football league that are of relevant nature right now," other than his knee. His rehab has been slow but steady according to Beachum and the Jaguars, but Beachum says he will know when he is 100 percent back to normal.
"Gotta play a whole game," Beachum said. "That's when you know you are back. Until then it is still a work in progress and all I can do is continue to do things that the coaches and staff are asking me to do. Then, after that if we get to roll the ball out, we roll the ball out."
While Beachum is looking forward to playing a whole game, offensive coordinator Greg Olson is looking for something a little different. He knows that there will be an adjustment period to "knock some of the rust off," but Olson adds that communication with the teammate next to him is just as important.
"It is important to be able to function because we will show [Luke] Joeckel probably at left guard. So being able to function with Luke Joeckel -- how is the communication between those two is a huge part of what we are trying to find out about him in this game. He has played at a high level in the past and just see continuous progress. He has had a good week, a good two days, and we will get another look at him again today so he is doing some good things, but just seeing some steady progress from him.”
The team has not said if Beachum will see his first action in a Jaguars jersey on Sunday when they face the Bengals at home for the third preseason game, but if they do Blake Bortles says that Cincinnati will serve as a great challenge for Beachum and the offensive line.
"“I am looking forward to it. He has been anxious, he has been excited to get back on the field. Obviously, from what he went through and all of the rehab and everything he has done, I know he has worked really hard to get where he is now. Cincinnati is a good defense and they are going to do some stuff so I think it will be a good test for our offense and Kelvin [Beachum] as well. I am excited for him, the opportunity, and I think he will do a really good job and I am looking forward to it.”