Torry Holt (Phil Coale/AP)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been trying to get their passing game on track since the glory days of when Mark Brunell was finding “Thunder and Lightning” with regularity. For the first time since Jimmy Smith’s retirement, the Jaguars have a true professional to help their young guys develop.
Countless early draft picks on skill position players haven’t amounted to much, and expensive free agent acquisitions have turned out arguably worse.
When the Jaguars signed veteran wide receiver Torry Holt in free agency, it was so much more than to just fill a hole. Holt is a true professional in every sense of the word, and it’s very possible that he can be the first player to wear a Jaguars uniform inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“When we signed him, everybody got real excited and he’s a guy that loves to compete and wants to win,” Jags running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. “He just wants to come in and win games.”
It’s not clear how much winning the Jaguars will do in year one of the Torry Holt era, but there’s certainly a better feeling amongst the team’s roster regarding the successful veteran.
“Torry has brought excitement,” Jones-Drew said. “All the young receivers are excited to learn from one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game.”
So what has Holt shown the Jaguars quartet of young receivers which include Mike Walker, Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard, and Tiquan Underwood?
“When he got out there, Torry was able to teach,” the Jaguars star running back said. “He got them to embrace their roles, whatever it may be. If you play the slot, embrace that slot role and be the best slot receiver that you can be. Be the best #1, be the best role player that you can be.”
Holt has even had a profound effect on the players that line up against him on defense.
“At first I had to catch myself because I thought I was dreaming,” Jaguars speedy cornerback and kick return man Brian Witherspoon said. “Torry’s a good guy, he comes out there and works hard and he has a great attitude. He comes to work every day with a smile on his face. He’s a great veteran guy and a great leader.”
The Jaguars believe that Holt’s experience and elite talent should help quarterback David Garrard maximize his abilities.
“I think the one thing Torry has brought is a level of trust for David (Garrard) so he’s aware that at third-and-7, he’s going to run more than seven yards,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “I think that’ll be a good thing for David.”
Torry Holt may not single-handedly lead the Jaguars to a division title in 2009, but he will do what he’s been doing his entire career. Making not only plays, but everyone around him better.