Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark looked like he was about to play a pivotal role in the franchise's turnaround in 2019. In 15 games, the LSU product caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in his second season, and earned Pro Bowl honors. He took a step backward in 2020, however, as he caught just 53 passes for 706 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games played.
When new head coach Urban Meyer watched film on his team from last year, he apparently did not like what he saw from Chark -- who was expected to be his No. 1 wide receiver. Listed at 6-foot-4 and roughly 200 pounds, Meyer saw Chark as a big guy who played little.
"I just didn't like his size. His strength, I just thought, was way below average, way below what we expect from our receivers, and he was told that," Meyer said, via ESPN. "He's a big guy that played little last year, and that can't happen. Guys like [Saints wide receiver] Mike Thomas and [former NFL wideout] Louis Murphy are those big, strong, fast receivers, and he's got to play big and strong."
Coach Meyer told Chark to get into the weight room, and he did. According to ESPN, Chark is now up to 210 pounds, and ready to play exactly how Meyer wants in 2021.
"I love the challenge," Chark said. "I love talking to Coach Meyer. He's a competitor. He's going to push me."
Chark is just 24 years old and has proven that he has the talent to be a special player in this league. It also says a lot to Meyer that he has been able to handle this kind of criticism and respond in the right way.
"It tells you he's a smart player," Meyer said. "This whole world's about increasing someone's value, and DJ Chark can increase his value by getting bigger and stronger and playing that way. And he can also help us win. I mean, I love the fact there was no resistance. He acknowledged it, and [receivers coach] Sanjay [Lal] has been working with him. I love where he's at."