“I like this football team and it’s a team that last year learned what being selfless is all about and really competing for one another,” said Jack Del Rio. “We feel like we’ve added some strength to some areas of concern last year and we’re excited about that.”
Some of those strengths and areas of concern Del Rio was talking about was the wide receiving corps and the secondary, in which the Jaguars added receivers Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson, as well as cornerback Drayton Florence.
“Jerry Porter was signed to really be the (number) one,” Del Rio said. “He came in this spring and really was the most polished guy we had. Very smooth route runner, great hands, great understanding of where he belonged with route combinations. He’s going to be a very good player for us, and we’ll get him back sometime at the beginning of the year, hopefully for the opener if not shortly thereafter. So he’s really been the top guy throughout the spring.”
Although Porter has been hampered by his hamstring issues, the Jaguars still have a few others to add to what was an underrated and effective wide receiving corps a year ago.
“We added three guys, we lost Ernest Wilford. We added Troy Williamson in a trade, Mike Walker coming off the injured reserve, and you talk about those two plus Jerry Porter, and we feel our group is stronger than what it was last year, and we were very productive last year with the guys we had,” Del Rio told Sirius NFL Radio. “That’s not going to be a weakness for us, I think that’s going to be a unit that will play well for us.”
The Jaguars receiving corps seems to be in a bit of distress at this point, with Porter’s hamstring injury, Reggie Williams’ knee, Dennis Northcutt’s back, and Troy Williamson’s undisclosed leg injury. Still, Del Rio is confident that those players will return and the team will have plenty of talent.
“Beyond Porter, we have a bunch of guys who are all capable of playing up to a two,” Del Rio said. “Reggie Williams returns, 10 TD’s last year, Matt Jones returns, he’s got a lot of talent, he’s working hard, he’s had his best camp thus far.”
Jones has played at an unbelievable level in this training camp and has been one of the real positive surprises in the Jaguars camp. Del Rio talked about his struggles—
“One of the things I said this offseason when I was asked about stuff like this is that at first you’re angry, pissed off. You couldn’t be more upset that there’s embarrassment that the organization has to deal with, and he obviously has to deal with. Then you stop and say ‘what can I do for this young man?’ To me this is an opportunity for him, a slap in the face, an embarrassing thing that he has to deal with, and he still has to deal with some issues. But for him, hopefully this is the sort of thing that’s like a slap in the face, you wake up and you get busy, because before you know it you’re career is over and you’re full of regret, and you don’t want to have that. And I think more than anything I’d like to see this young man mature as a man and with our whole football team, mature as men and come together and have some fun winning a bunch of games.”
With the way that Jack Del Rio has stood by his troubled wide receiver, it shows the rest of the players that management does indeed care.
“I think we’ve identified it (selflessness) as something that we want to have and I’ve showed example after example of what it looks like and what I’m looking for,” Del Rio said. “I just continue to reinforce when I see it, continue to nip it in the bud when I don’t see it, and try to collect guys that are that way. When you bring in a guy like Maurice Jones-Drew and the first thing he does when he gets here is compliment Fred Taylor, and the first thing he does when he gets here is talk about the great coaching he’s getting with Kennedy Pola, it’s not about him. That’s the type of attitude that permeates a football team. It starts with collecting guys like that, but it’s also important for us as coaches to deliver that message.”
It remains to be seen if the chemistry that Del Rio is preaching will translate into on field success, but the Jaguars certainly seem to be buying in.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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