Former U.C. Bearcats linebacker J.K. Schaffer is vying for the Queen City trifecta after playing both high school and college in Cincinnati, and now is looking to earn a roster spot with the hometwon Bengals. After spending last year on the practice squad, Schaffer is just happy to get back on the field and begin what hopes to be a long offseason that culminates with a spot on the 53-man roster:
I just never got that many quality reps with the actual calls and making adjustments. It was just on the cards and everything was drawn up. I think it’s a real good opportunity for me to get back myself rolling and get back into some football. It was like being redshirted. I was never redshirted in college but I kind of felt like that’s what was going on. I had a lot of older guys, even the younger rookies that had been here longer, helping me out to get to know the playbook, just learning how everything goes and how to practice and do all of that stuff. It was a yearlong of development for me.
I might have put on some muscle and trimmed off some fat. I’m around the same weight but I’m moving a lot better, I’m a lot more flexible and I’m a lot leaner. I’m not out there thinking too much. I’m reacting. I’m physically doing it. I’ve gotten mental reps, I’ve gotten the slower practice reps and now it’s nice to put it into actual work. It definitely helps a lot. I don’t feel mentally tired out there. I feel like I’m out there running around fast and I know what I’m doing.
After an outstanding 4-year career at UC that saw him named a two-time All-Big East selection, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by they Jacksonville Jaguars. He played in all four Jaguars preseason games and led the team in tackles with 18 stops to go along with one interception and two pass defenses. He was waived by the Jaguars on August 31, and was later signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneer practice squad in September.