Most of the rookies underwent new hair styles last week, courtesy of the veterans who shaved the heads (or most of it) of the drafted first-year players. First-round pick Reggie Nelson, with his long flowing dreadlocks, escaped the scissors but not the duct tape that the veterans used to tape the starting safety to a goal post following an evening practice. "Laughed Nelson afterward, "Yeah, but they didn't get my hair. And did you see how many of them it took to tape me down?"
The Jaguars are as deep at linebacker as they are at any position this year. Part of that was helped by middle linebacker Mike Peterson missing 11 games last year due to a torn pectoral muscle that gave then-rookie Clint Ingram a starting job. Ingram responded so well that he recorded 117 tackles, second only to Darryl Smith's 170 stops. Smith replaced Peterson in the middle with Ingram filling in at Smith's spot. Coupled with last year's starter Nick Greisen at the other outside spot and second-round draft pick Joseph Durant's bid for playing time, competition is fierce among the Jaguars linebackers.
The veteran Peterson is especially high on Durant.
"He can fly around. He's a young guy who has wheels and can fly around," the veteran Peterson said. "It's just a matter of putting that into our scheme and knowing where to go."
Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich was sounding like a kid turned loose in a candy store following the Jaguars' 18-17 loss to Miami in the team's preseason opener. Even though it was a one-point loss, few paid any attention to the score, including Leftwich, who only wanted to talk about his return to action.
He missed the final 10 games of the 2006 season when the coaching staff felt his injured ankle limited his mobility. He eventually was placed on injured reserve and had surgery on the ankle to clean it up. Leftwich, who felt he could have continued to play in the '06 season, welcomed the return to NFL competition last Saturday, albeit a preseason game.
"It just felt so good to be back out there," he said. "I feel we have a real strong passing game. We didn't have a lot of big plays tonight (seven passes of 15 yards or more), the passing game is there. I'm just anxious to fine tune everything and be ready to go when the season starts."
Defensive end Paul Spicer turns 32 this week, joining three other Jaguars (Terry Cousin, Jermaine Wiggins and Chris Naeole) as the oldest players on this year's team. But Spicer said he doesn't feel his age.
"No, I don't," he said in reference to feeling old. "I love this game and I love getting out there and having fun.
"Personally, (my goal for this year) is to go through the season and stay healthy. No. 2 is going out there and making plays. I feel that is what has kept me here. I want to make as many as I can. If that's a sack, then it's a sack, a tackle for loss, a fumble, forced fumble or interception. Whatever it may be to help the team win, just making big plays."
While most NFL teams are battling hot, humid conditions, few teams other than Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Miami are battling the scorching heat and high humidity elements of Florida weather. Because they'll play their first three home games with a 1 p.m. kickoff, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio has the club practicing one day a week (Wednesdays) at 1:30 p.m., generally the hottest part of the day.
There have been a couple days in which temperatures reached the 100-degree mark with the humidity temperature index beyond that.
"I think it helps in September when teams up north (play in Jacksonville). It's something they can't prepare for," Del Rio said.
Added veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis, who grew up in Jacksonville and played his high school ball in the city, "We know it's going to be hot. If we are able to push through, then we will have an advantage when some teams come down here and they are not used to this weather. We have to take it as an advantage and it has to be an edge for us."
Fred Taylor is the only Jaguars player who remains on the team from the 1999 team that lost to the Titans in the AFC Championship Game. There are just 11 players who were on the team roster prior to 2003. ... Pro Bowl defensive tackle John Henderson owns an AAU basketball team in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn. ... Backup defensive tackle Rob Meier was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2000 Canadian Football League draft by British Columbia. ... The Jaguars continue to have the NFL's only two starting guards (Chris Naeole and Vince Manuwai) that hail from Hawaii. ... Rookie DT Derek Landri was a high school teammate of second-year RB Maurice Jones-Drew at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif. They never lost a game while playing as teammates at De La Salle. ... This past March, TE George Wrighster fulfilled a long-time dream by opening an "urban contemporary" clothing boutique called Third Generation Clothing in San Fernando Valley, Calif. ... FB Greg Jones is the cousin of boxing great Joe Frazier. ... Rookie OT Andrew Carnahan played four seasons under then-Arizona State head coach Dirk Koetter, who now serves as the team's offensive coordinator. ... LB Clint Ingram is the nephew of former Dallas Cowboys running back Robert Newhouse.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "It felt good to be back out there. It's been since last October that I was out there playing the game I love. You don't realize how much you love something until it's taken away from you." -- Leftwich talking about playing in the Dolphins game, his first action after he was held out of the final 10 games of the 2006 season with an ankle injury.