Monroe, Babin have unique friendship

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Left tackle Eugene Monroe and Leo defensive end Jason Babin are two very important players for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In training camp, they often square off against one another.

They spend some down time together competing in a friendlier way, going offshore fishing when they can.

“It’s fun practicing against that caliber of a player, just battling every chance that we’re facing each other,” Monroe said. “We’ve become good friends off the field, done some fishing together, so we always have a lot to talk about, we’re always competitive. Everything we do, we’re competing against each other.

So who wins when they fish?

“He’s got a little more experience at this point, but I’m getting there,” Monroe said.

Replied Babin: “I appreciate his honesty. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve been fishing much longer than he has. So we’ll see how things pan out in about five, 10 more years.”

I asked Babin specifically about Monroe and rookie right tackle Luke Joeckel giving Jacksonville strength at tackle.

His reply, however, included the whole line, not just the two first-round draft picks.

“The thing I like most about the O-line here, not just the tackles, is the fierce competitiveness,” Babin said. “We’re battling every period, our coaches are getting us fired up and at the end of the day we come in here and hang out, I’m fishing with Gene. We battle, we’re beating each other and then we’re good afterward.”

If the Jaguars are going to make progress in the win column in the first year with Gus Bradley as their coach, Monroe and Babin are going to be a big part of it.

It’s a bit unusual for guys at their positions to be especially tight and it makes for a cool wrinkle to see them, and the two lines, co-mingling in a locker room where they are positioned near one another.

Perhaps their friendship is just a coincidence. But maybe it says something about the team’s chemistry.