Jaguars safety Peyton Thompson knows as well as anyone just how hard it is to not only earn a spot on an NFL roster but keep one. Since he first came to the league as an undrafted free agent with the Falcons in 2012, the San Jose State product has been cut six times.
Such is the life of a player who’s probably best suited to work on special teams. Much like his play in the secondary, though, the chances of Thompson earning and keeping a roster spot with the Jaguars this year seem to be improving.
When Tashaun Gipson was forced to miss all of the Jaguars offseason workouts, including their minicamp, with an undisclosed injury, defensive coordinator Todd Wash plugged Thompson into the opening at free safety and according to coach Doug Marrone, Thompson fared rather well.
“He’s done a nice job for us,’’ Marrone told reporters during the spring. “He’s trying to make sure we can establish him at a position where he can go in there and play and help us compete. I think he’s really come back differently than last year.’’
What’s different is Thompson’s approach to his job. Instead of worrying about being cut, he opted this past year to focus more on the various roles he’s asked to play in the Jaguars defense in the hopes he can begin to excel at one of them.
It appears he may have done that. Thompson says he’s reached a point now in his knowledge of the defense as well as how route concepts work where he can play fast. That and the opportunity to show off his skills during offseason workouts have created an opportunity for him.
The Jaguars say they’re not concerned about whatever the injury is that forced Gipson to the sidelines. Indeed, they said they were only being cautious when they opted to keep him out. Still, there’s a chance Gipson’s absence could stretch into training camp.
If that’s the case then Thompson could become a very important player to the Jaguars. This is a team that’s quite deep at safety, but newcomer Barry Church had to miss all of the offseason workouts and minicamp as well, which means the Jaguars may at least have to do some shuffling.
One option would be to move Jalen Ramsey to safety, but with Ramsey coming off surgery to repair a core muscle issue, he could be limited, too. Either way, it looks like Thompson will have his best chance yet to prove what he’s really worth once training camp rolls around.
Of course, given the reviews he received from Marrone during the offseason workouts, it’s possible he’s already done that.