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Jaguars' D.J. Hayden asserting himself to help rookie cornerback CJ Henderson

By John Reid, The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) on

Published in Football

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Since a dismal performance against Miami last week, the Jaguars have been soul-searching and honing in on correcting mistakes.

They are looking to regain their footing this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road after back-to-back losses to the Titans and Dolphins.

Like cornerback D.J. Hayden, some of the Jaguars' veterans have stepped up their leadership role. They aim to get the young players on the same page, especially with their focus.

Hayden plans to help rookie cornerback CJ Henderson, who struggled against the Dolphins. Henderson got beat in coverage for a touchdown pass, got flagged for pass interference on another play, and failed touch receiver Jakeem Grant down after a diving catch that allowed him to gain an extra 10 yards.

"You just have to kind of remind him every play, just be like, 'Hey hey, come on now, lock in.' (It's) just like little stuff here and there," Hayden said. "It's just like quick reminders, just get him hype, but we all have to play."

Hayden is probably the best player on the roster who can help Henderson, who was the ninth-overall pick in the April draft out of Florida. Like Henderson, Hayden came into the league with high expectations to meet as the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft. As an eight-year veteran with 89 career games, he knows all the tricks in coverage to lockdown on receivers. Hayden had six pass breakups and 32 tackles last season for the Jaguars as their starting nickel corner.

 

"D.J. has always been that guy that's always had a high-level focus of his job and what to do," Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. "He's always been available, has played through numerous bumps and bruises and things like that, and then plays at a consistent level.

"His mentality and his business approach or just being that steady type of guy, that day in and day out, comes in the same way, with not a lot of outside distractions. When you're looking at veteran players, I think that he can help some of those guys with maybe some distractions or challenges that they have outside."

Right now, the Jaguars (1-2) look like they can use help in a variety of ways. They are virtually in a must-win situation against the Bengals (0-2-1) to keep their season from unraveling.

Jacksonville has been outscored 35-7 this season in the first quarter. And quarterback Gardner Minshew didn't complete a touchdown pass in last Thursday's 31-13 loss to the Dolphins.

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