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Thursday, July 30th, 2009
By Gary R. Rasberry
Boeckman ready for training camp
It's been a regular habit in the month of August for Todd Boeckman for nearly half his life.
Boeckman, be it at St. Henry or at Ohio State, would be heading out to the field to get ready for the upcoming football season around this time.
Now, he is getting ready for another training camp.
The former Redskin and Buckeye quarterback heads to Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday for the start of the National Football League's Jacksonville Jaguars' training camp. Camp gets underway at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Monday.
Boeckman signed a free-agent contract with the Jaguars in mid-June after a successful workout with the team.
Now, will be the second step of Boeckman's mission, to make the opening day roster of the Jaguars.
"First of all, I'm excited to get an opportunity to get the chance to be in camp. It's always been a dream to be in an NFL training camp. Now I get the opportunity," said Boeckman earlier this week. "I've just got to make the most of it. ... I hope it all goes well."
Boeckman spent most of the spring, after finishing his career at Ohio State, keeping in shape and waiting for calls for an invite to a post-draft mini-camp to try and hook up with an NFL team. The Cincinnati Bengals invited him to their mini-camp, but nothing came of that opportunity.
Then came the call from the Jaguars to attend a tryout. After working out at the team's complex, the team released backup quarterback Cleo Lemon and signed Boeckman to a one-year deal.
Now, Boeckman will work for a backup position behind starter David Garrard. Veteran Todd Bouman and Paul Smith, last season's third-string signal caller, are the other quarterbacks in camp.
Boeckman got to meet the other quarterbacks at the team's organized team activity (OTA) the day after he signed. Although the session was just for one day, Boeckman felt good after meeting the quarterbacks.
"They were very welcome of me. They really took me in. It was kind of strange going for one day and half a practice," said Boeckman. "I really enjoyed working with them. I'm looking forward to working with them again.
"David Garrard is a great guy. He really wanted to help me out. Even though he's making all that money, he's still a laid-back person, as is Todd and Paul. I'm excited to compete against them and they want to compete, too. Hopefully, we can all do well."
Boeckman also got a small example of what to expect with the Jaguars' playbook.
"They gave me about five practices worth of the playbook, and that still is over 100 passing plays," said Boeckman. "It's just a lot more complex. They put a lot more in. They just go, they don't look back. You've got to learn a lot of it on your own. They're not going to look back and help you out. It's just a lot more complex going from high school to college and from college to the NFL. Just a lot more things to do and people are a lot more talented. They know their situations and what they've got to do. It's a job, now. A business. So you have to go out there and know every little detail."
Boeckman also got to meet his coaches, including head coach Jack Del Rio and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, son of legendary coach Don Shula.
"Jack Del Rio seems like a real players' coach. I think he's more a defensive-minded guy (having played 11 seasons as a linebacker in the NFL)," said Boeckman. "He seemed like a great guy, wanting to help everybody out. Mike Shula is a great coach. The last name speaks for itself. ... He's been around football all his life. He really knows the ins and outs. Maybe he can make me into a better player.
"One more coach to talk about is Mel Tucker. He was a defensive coach at Ohio State my first few years there. Now he's the defensive coordinator here (in Jacksonville). He made me feel like home when I got here. He sat me down and talked about some things. It felt a little more like home having a guy there you know and really respect and look up to."
While Boeckman has taken care of the physical readiness of entering camp, the test will be the mental portion of going through a pro football setup of two-a-days and repetitions.
"The mental aspect of being a professional football player is going to be a lot tougher than the physical," said Boeckman. "Whoever's in this training camp definitely has the physical tools to make it this far.
"It's guys who cannot handle it mentally that don't make the cut. That's going to be the hard part for me to overcome. Being a rookie, I've got a lot of catching up to do and lot of work on my own to try and stay up with these guys who are going to get more reps than I am. I know coming in, I won't be getting a lot of reps practice-wise. I've got to make the most of every rep I'm going to get because it could be my last. I never know if it will be my last. I have to go out there and be as mentally sharp as I can and get the job done."
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