Jacksonville Jaguars

‘Expert’ left tackle Albert practices with Jags for first time

(USA TODAY Sports)

Calling himself “one of the best experts at playing left tackle in the universe right now,” Branden Albert practiced with Jacksonville for the first time Tuesday since the Jaguars traded for him in March.

Albert was admittedly out of shape during his first workout. Although he made it through the two-plus-hour practice without any noticeable issues, he asked for a couple of minutes to cool off before answering questions.

“For the first day after taking six months off … and being in this heat and practice tempo, it’s always going to be tough,” Albert said. “You’re never going to be perfect the first day.”

He wasn’t even close. Albert lined up with the third-team offense, playing behind Josh Wells and rookie second-round draft pick Cam Robinson, and said he jumped offside twice during team drills.

“I’m not worried about it,” said Albert, an important piece of Jacksonville’s revamped offensive line that new coach Doug Marrone wants to be more physical and effective. “It’s the end of June; it’s not game time yet. I’m just happy to be out here with the guy and with the team and just working.”

There was concern about Albert’s status before he reported for the mandatory, three-day minicamp Monday. Jacksonville acquired the 10th-year veteran from Miami in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft. But Albert didn’t show up with teammates for the first phase of the team’s voluntary, offseason program in hopes of getting a new contract.

Making the situation messier, Albert failed to communicate with his new coaches.

“My advisers and everything we were trying to get the situation straight,” Albert said. “A little something that it was business-wise. It wasn’t personal on both sides. Now it’s over with. Now I get back to work to be the best football player I could be and moving forward to help the Jacksonville Jaguars organization, team move on.”

The 32-year-old lineman signed a five-year, $47 million contract with the Dolphins in 2014. The deal included $26 million guaranteed, all of which was paid over the last three seasons. Albert is due a base salary of $8.875 million this season and $9.575 million in 2018.

But having watched three fellow offensive tackles — San Diego’s Russell Okung, Minnesota’s Riley Reiff and Carolina’s Matt Kalil — sign new contracts that paid them more than $25 million guaranteed, Albert was looking to cash in again.

“Things didn’t get done, move on,” he said. “What I’m (making) this year is not a bad deal. You just look at the market and had conversations and at the end of the day you’ve got to move on. It is what it is. If I do my job, everything will be forgot about. That’s all I got to do: Learn the playbook and move on.”

The Jaguars have made no commitment to Albert as a starter. After he skipped voluntary workouts in April, they drafted Robinson in the second round (34th overall) and said they planned to play him at left tackle.

Throwing Albert onto the field for his first day and with the third team could be seen as sending him a message, too.

“He hasn’t been here. He doesn’t know the plays, doesn’t know the system, doesn’t know, just hasn’t been here,” Marrone said. “I’m not looking to build any bridges with anyone. I’m looking to build a good football team and a winning football team. Whoever the best players are, they’re going to play, and like I said, I have enough friends. I don’t really need any. I’m looking for good football players.”

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