Coach Del Rio (Getty Images)
Even before training camp opened, the Jaguars faced several injury situations that were carry-overs from the 2007 season or that had occurred during the organized team activities that took place between March and June.
But those setbacks pale in comparison to what the Jaguars have incurred since camp opened just two weeks ago. The severity of the injuries became more obvious when the club listed 10 players who would not dress for the first preseason game against Atlanta on Aug. 8.
These weren't free agent rookies still trying to make the team's 53-man roster. Six of the 10 are expected to be starters once they return to full health, and the other four will play key backup roles. And the list does not include James Wyche, a defensive end who was put on injured reserve after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. It's the second consecutive year the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Wyche has been an IR casualty. Last year, he missed the entire season after suffering a groin injury in the team's final preseason game.
The list also doesn't include Derrick Harvey, the only first-round draft choice in the league who has yet to sign his contract and report to camp. Even when Harvey does sign it, he'll be more than two weeks behind the rest of the team with regards to team practice and conditioning.
Harvey's holdout became more crucial when Wyche went down with his injury, as it further depleted an area that the Jaguars had concerns with before the start of camp. Harvey and second-round draft choice Quentin Groves were selected to help shore up an area that was the weak link in Jacksonville's defense last year. With Reggie Hayward also listed among the 10 players who did not compete against the Falcons, the coaching staff has been scrambling for replacements and trying to juggle three players -- starter Paul Spicer, Groves and backup Kenny Pettway -- as the only healthy ends entering the week.
Coach Jack Del Rio referred to the injuries as something a team goes through and tries to deal with as best it can.
"I know we're a little tight with numbers right now. We'll just have to work through it the best we can and you deal with things throughout the year," he said. "Things are going to come up and you've got to be able to deal with it and move on and that's what we're going to do with. We're working through it right now.
"Obviously we'd like to have everybody out there performing at a high level, but these guys that are down right now, we're hoping will get healthy soon."
Partly out of respect for the excellent shape he once again returned to camp in and partly out of fear of another injury, the team's No. 1 running back Fred Taylor did not dress for the Atlanta game. Taylor is healthy, however, and will be suited up for this Saturday's contest against Miami.