Jack Del Rio made his training camp theme known quickly Thursday:
"We're really focused on the root and not the fruit," Del Rio, entering his ninth season as the Jaguars' head coach, told reporters following the first practice of 2011 training camp.
He said that meant focus on the "process itself" needed to win, not on the end result – and certainly not on the many distractions of the first few days of a post-lockout training camp.
On Thursday, that was easier said than done, particularly when talking to the media, because on Thursday, Del Rio had to discuss a slew of first-day issues: the physical condition of two key players, the practice status of two more key players, the contract status of a Pro Bowl tight end, and various other roster moves and rookie signings.
The Jaguars began camp with two players on the non-football injury list: long snapper Jeremy Cain with a back issue and veteran offensive guard Vince Manuwai, who "is not even close to being ready," according to Del Rio.
"He didn't pass physically and conditioning-wise, he's nowhere close," Del Rio said.
Del Rio said Manuwai had foot and ankle issues as well.
"He's just in no condition to be out on the football field," Del Rio said. "He hasn't passed the physical and he's in poor condition. I know he's been dealing with some personal issues, but for us, the doctors couldn't, the coaches wouldn't – he's just not ready to be out there. We'll see how that goes."
Manuwai, who later told reporters he is about 15 pounds overweight , wasn't the only player whose weight was a focus Thursday. Third-year defensive tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton said he reported about 8-to-12 pounds overweight.
Del Rio said Knighton will work on the side "until he's ready to participate."
"He's not ready right now," Del Rio said. "For his safety, and for the players, we feel like we have to hold him out right now. He will not participate until he gets himself in a place where we feel like it's acceptable to come on the field."
Told about Knighton's estimate of 8-to-12 pounds, Del Rio – who said Knighton is in better shape than he was entering last training camp -- said, "It's like the deck chair being thrown off the Titanic. He's got a little work to do."
Knighton spoke to reporters after practice, and said he passed his conditioning test Wednesday. He also said he tweaked a hamstring during that test Wednesday, but that he doesn't expect getting into shape to be a long process.
"I'll be off for a few days," Knighton said. "They want me at my best. They don't want me to hurt myself."
Knighton, who said he spent much of the lockout in Jacksonville working out, said he didn't think he would have trouble with the weight entering camp. "I worked out and did everything I was supposed to do," he said. "I'm a big guy. It happens."
Manuwai, a nine-year veteran, later told reporters his weight problems and foot/ankle problems were related, and that the lockout hurt his off-season. Manuwai said he is about 340 pounds and would like to play around 325 or 330.
"All I can control is how to get it better," Manuwai said. "It stinks, because you want to be out there with your teammates. It's good, because I've got to go earn it. It's no different from my first year to my ninth year. Every year I come in with the attitude that if you want a jersey during the season it's what you've got to go earn."
Del Rio also addressed the early practice status of running back Maurice Jones-Drew and defensive end Aaron Kampman, each of whom missed the end of last season with a knee injury.
"They're both cleared to participate and they will in a limited fashion," Del Rio said. "We're going to ease them into camp a little bit, be smart with them and do some extra conditioning on the side."
Del Rio said Kampman and Jones-Drew will do more in the Thursday evening practice than Thursday morning, a practice that under the NFL's post-lockout rules was limited to essentially a walkthrough in sneakers and caps.
Under the NFL's new rules, teams may work in pads just once a day in training camp. The Jaguars' padded practices will be held in the evenings, with the first padded practice of 2011 training camp scheduled for Sunday night.
"It's quite a bit different," Del Rio said. "I think it's very clear to all who pay attention that coaches were not involved in any of the decision-making regarding the structure we're going to play with this year. We'll find out exactly what the rules are, and we'll find a way to prepare our guys for this season."
The Jaguars' morning practice featured the arrival of three of the team's five 2011 draft selections, with wide receiver Cecil Shorts participating in most of practice and cornerback Rod Issac arriving shortly before practice and working throughout. Safety Chris Prosinski arrived around 11:30 and participated in about the last 45 minutes.
Guard Will Rackley missed the morning practice, as did first-round quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Del Rio said he was hopeful that all draft picks would be signed by the evening practice.
"It's very fluid," Del Rio said. "As we get them in and signed, they'll join us."
Also making camp more difficult is a rule under which exclusive rights free agents as yet unsigned can't practice with the team until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is officially signed.
"Many of these things that occur are not in my control," Del Rio said. "I'm not going to focus on them. I'm going to let the people who need to worry about it worry about it. I'm going to concentrate on the guys who are here."
One player not at Jaguars practice Thursday was Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis, who the team designated its franchise player shortly before the lockout. Because he signed the franchise tender, he is considered a holdout and Del Rio said he expected he will be fined for not being in camp.
"I've spoken to him and my hope is he'll be here shortly," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars also released guard Justin Smiley, Del Rio said.
"We just allowed him the opportunity to catch on and be somewhere else," Del Rio said.
Del Rio said the main focus of camp early will be bringing young players up to speed, and conditioning. The 136-day lockout eliminated team-run organized activities and conditioning, and "conditioning is not where we want it to be," Del Rio said.
"We've got a lot of work to do as a football team, and I'm sure we're not unlike every other team out there across the league," Del Rio said.
Del Rio said the nature of camp and the shortened off-season will make it more difficult for young players to make the team and be a positive factor, "but again, we'll find a way," he said.
"The good thing for us is we have a solid core of veteran players who understand where we need to go and how we need to get there," Del Rio said. "I feel very good about that. I've been asking for a number of years here for leadership to step up. I really feel like we have assembled a cast of leaders who will step up and show the younger guys what the Jaguar Way looks like."