JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon knows he doesn't have the best reputation outside the locker room, but he said Wednesday the way he's perceived by fans and the media doesn't matter to him at all.
Earlier this month, Blackmon completed a four-game suspension for his second violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy in less than a year -- and his third substance-related incident in less than three years.
"I just don't really care about people on the outside," Blackmon said Wednesday as the Jaguars (0-6) began preparations for Sunday's home game against San Diego (3-3). "I don't care what they've got to say. I don't really care how they view me because ... they don't try to know me. They won't ever know me, so that's not important to me. They can feel however they want to feel.
"All I can do is control what I can control, and that's showing up here, trying to get better every day and carrying that out there on the field."
Blackmon has certainly done that since he returned from his suspension. He has caught 19 passes for 326 yards and one touchdown in losses to St. Louis and Denver and has helped the offense go from averaging 224 yards of total offense and 7.8 points in the first four games to 362.5 yards of total offense and 19.5 points with him in the lineup.
A new NFL rule allowed Blackmon to attend meetings and work out at the facility during his suspension, but he was barred from practicing. He added eight pounds of muscle and caught passes at a nearby field on his own while also doing some work in the community. Most importantly, he stayed out of trouble.
His teammates were impressed with the way Blackmon handled himself during the suspension.
"Everybody sees all the off-the-field issues and all we see is him working hard, getting better as a player and as a person," quarterback Chad Henne said. "He's just a tremendous guy. I respect what he's gone through and how he's handled it. He's really come a long way."
There's going to be a lot of skepticism regarding Blackmon, though, because of his past, which includes two arrests. The first came in Texas in 2010 on a misdemeanor DUI charge (later reduced to underage alcohol possession) after police officers caught him speeding outside of Dallas. The second came in May 2012 during a traffic stop in Stillwater, Okla., after a breath test allegedly showed his blood alcohol content to be three times the legal limit.
Those things naturally override any of the good things he has done, such as giving out free tickets to Jaguars home games. However, Blackmon isn't wasting time worrying about what anyone else thinks.
"I'm a very good person, I would say, although people think I'm an a------," he said. "Like I said, not everybody's going to view me how I want them to. I'm not going to try to force them or make them view me that way, either. If they want to get to know me, they can get to know me. If not, I could care less about them."