JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Julius Thomas has accepted the fact that he may always have some slight pain in his right hand whenever he catches a football.
He dealt with it all of last season after suffering a fractured bone in the back of his hand in the Jacksonville Jaguars' first preseason game. The pain was significantly worse when he did get back on the field in Week 5, but he played through it, so a minor ache now is no problem.
"I don’t know if everything always goes back [to the way it was before the injury]," Thomas said Saturday after the Jaguars’ third training camp practice. "I’ve learned how to do everything I need to do."
Thomas caught 46 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns despite the injury in 2015, which was his first season with the Jaguars after signing a five-year, $46 million contract. Every time he caught a pass, he had pain in his right hand. And while that eased during the offseason, Thomas expects to always have some mild discomfort with each reception -- at least for the immediate future.
It will not impact the way he plays, however, and he’s looking forward to continuing to develop chemistry with quarterback Blake Bortles. He said that was going well during OTAs, minicamp and the beginning of training camp last season before the injury, after which it took him a while to find his way back into the offense.
This is the second year under coordinator Greg Olson, so there is not the added task of learning a new offense.
"Everything just comes back quicker," Thomas said. "You’ve still got to remember all the different assignments and do what you have to do to play at a high level. The communication is better, the understanding of the offense is better. It helps you get into that rhythm a little bit quicker than last year, for sure."