Jaguars: Inside Slant

The Jaguars passing game continues to be the talk and the interest of training camp. So much emphasis was placed on the passing attack during the offseason.

Right tackle Tony Pashos was lured from Baltimore's starting unit to fill a glaring need for the Jaguars at that position. Veteran wide receiver Dennis Northcutt was signed with the hope of utilizing his experience and speed not to mention his knowledge and the hope that he could work with some of the younger receivers.

In the college draft, the Jaguars used third and seventh round draft picks on Mike Walker and John Broussard respectively. And maybe most importantly, Jack Del Rio brought in Dirk Koetter to coordinate the offense, added Mike Shula as quarterbacks coach to work with Byron Leftwich's techniques and added Todd Monken as wide receivers coach following two highly successful years with the Louisiana State program.

But after a week's worth of training camp practices, the passing game doesn't look noticeably different than a year ago, when it ranked in the bottom third of the league's aerial attacks. Receivers continue to drop passes and while Leftwich has looked sharp, neither backup David Garrard nor newly signed Tim Couch have stood out thus far. And that's even with the trio of quarterbacks off-limits to opposing defensive linemen, who must step aside and allow the quarterback to throw, even if they are in the backfield ready to record a sack.

Matt Jones continues to look like someone who would rather be casting a fishing line back home in the hills of Arkansas than taking a shot in the ribs stretching for an overthrown pass. Jones can make a leaping one-handed grab of a pass 25 yards down the field on one play and two plays later, drop a ball that is ready to hit him in his numbers.

Same with Reggie Williams, who like Jones, is a former first-round pick that has failed to perform at that level up to this point. The third veteran holdover among the receiving group is Ernest Wilford, who also has talent but is lacking consistency.

Best among the receivers in the opening week of practice was rookie third-round pick Mike Walker and the veteran Northcutt. Both have shown a propensity to get open and then catch the pass thrown their way. Charles Sharon, who made such a strong impression during offseason workouts, lost his edge of working with the first unit because he's experienced concussion-like symptoms after he struck his head on the turf in the team's first day of full contact on Monday. He's expected to return to action this week, however.

The Jaguars will likely keep five receivers on their 53-man roster meaning two of the aforementioned could be gone. Broussard could be a candidate for the practice squad if he doesn't make the roster.

At this point, Walker, Northcutt and probably Wilford are likely to grab three of the spots. But the other two will go to whoever has the best showing between now and September 1. Williams and Jones have failed to live up to their first-round draft pick status, and one or both could be in danger of not making this year's final roster.

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