JaMarcus Russell's hard work will pay off.
The No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft has been busting his butt in the gym and on the practice field, and he will land on an NFL roster this summer.
In Bleacher Report's fifth installment of its series chronicling Russell's comeback attempt, we learned that he's down to 288 pounds. Russell tipped the scales at 315 pounds when he started his comeback in February.
Since then, he's been working consistently with former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia and Test Sports, and the fruit of his labor is clearly evident.
Russell has the pure athletic talent to succeed in the NFL.
He can throw a football through a brick wall, can escape pressure with his legs and can throw on the run. Russell's accuracy was an issue during his first stint in the league (52.1 career completion percentage with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions), but accuracy issues can be corrected with proper mechanics.
Garcia's guidance on that front will surely help Russell hit his targets with more frequency.
Russell didn't take the game of football seriously when he came into the league the first time around. NFL.com's Marc Sessler recently wrote, "Russell was a lazy, lethargic personality who sunk the Raiders' quarterback room and threw the Raiders off course for three seasons."
Judging by Russell's focus and determination in the video series Bleacher Report has put together, he's no longer the same kid who didn't put his heart and soul into the game.
CBS Sports' Mike Freeman is an NFL insider, and he reported recently that Russell is on the radar of a few teams:
I'm told that a number of teams have been following Russell's comeback attempt closely. It's not the entire league, but it's more than a few teams...The reason that teams are interested is because there just aren't enough good quarterbacks in the league.
Though Russell still has a ways to go before he's ready to step into an NFL starting lineup, he is clearly on the right path.
Garcia recently talked about the difficult task Russell still has in front of him as the two of them prepare for his pro day in April, via USA Today's Jim Corbett:
The plan right now is to continue to prepare him for another month and put together a pro day where teams can come and see JaMarcus. Granted his back is against the wall. This is a situation where if he doesn't do it now, it may never happen.
But if you look at where he was two months ago to where he is today, he's come a long way in demanding more out of himself than he ever did. [Russell is] younger than I was when I came into the NFL at 29. And he can still throw that ball like no other quarterback.
With teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in desperate need of quarterback talent, Russell is sure to get a chance to earn a roster spot in the NFL this season.
He's too talented and now too motivated to be ignored, and at least one team will give him a chance to prove himself on the field in 2013.
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