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Brunell still hot topic

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Speculation about the future of Mark Brunell is raging as the Jaguars prepare for Thursday's preseason finale against the Washington Redskins. Will Brunell be cut? Traded?

"Nothing has changed in my stance from what I said from day one," coach Jack Del Rio said in answering a reporter who asked if Brunell will be the Jaguars' starting quarterback on opening day.

What have you said from day one? Del Rio was asked.

"I've been very clear as to how I'm going to address the roster," Del Rio added, referring to his comments that he's going to play the "best 11 guys."

"Right now, he's our quarterback. There are other guys penciled in, but it doesn't get inked in until Carolina," Del Rio added, referring to the regular-season opener against the Carolina Panthers.

You be the judge. Do those remarks mean Brunell is still "The Man?" Or are they suspiciously vague?

Brunell's reaction was not available, since the Jaguars locker room is closed to the media this week, but in his postgame remarks this past Saturday night he acknowledged his awareness of the speculation he will be released by the team. And the subject is likely to remain the hot topic in Jacksonville until Brunell is cut, traded or named to the final roster.

Meanwhile, Del Rio addressed a few other topics of mild concern:

• About his dissatisfaction with his defense's play, though it only allowed 10 points in Saturday's loss to the Bucs, Del Rio said: "I guess that proves I'm a defensive coach. I have high expectations and I'm not going to lower them."

• Running back Fred Taylor is expected to see limited action in Thursday's game against the Redskins. Del Rio cited preseason injuries to players such as Michael Vick and Chad Pennington as reason not to use Taylor for more than a few series. "We identified Fred as a stud and we want to see it in the regular season," Del Rio said.

• Defensive end Tony Brackens will see his first action since being lost early last season to microfracture knee surgery, and Del Rio said Brackens' performance Thursday will go a long way toward the decision on whether or not to keep Brackens on the active roster.

• Though the offensive line allowed a lot of pressure by the Bucs' defensive front, Del Rio thinks his offensive line is headed in an upward direction. "When we get done at the end of the year, looking back, you're going to say that group had a good year," Del Rio said.

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