Veteran defensive end Marco Coleman used this morning's water break to build a fire under his teammates. In the process, Coleman would seem to have volunteered for the Jaguars' veteran leader role.
"It was getting close to the end of camp. I hadn't spoken up much at all. It was my time to say something," Coleman told reporters of his decision this morning to request a brief, players-only meeting during a break in practice.
The Jaguars were in the process of a sluggish start to practice. The defense had jumped offside a couple of times, and Coleman sensed an overall tired feeling on one of the hottest mornings of training camp.
"This was my opportunity to give back to a lot of young guys," Coleman said of his decision to exercise the kind of team-leadership role his experience in the NFL would seem to encourage.
"We had to get some things together. Practice was going slow. We had to cut out the bull and practice faster," cornerback Jason Craft said of Coleman's message.
"It was hot and people were dragging. The reaction was he's right. Let's get this done and get it done the right way," Craft added.
Head coach Tom Coughlin did not discourage Coleman's request to address his teammates. Coleman was signed in June by the Jaguars because Coughlin believed Coleman could provide the kind of elder-statesman leadership Clyde Simmons gave the 1996 Jaguars.
"It's a good sign when it's coming from someone who's saying the right thing," Coughlin said of a players-only meeting.
The remainder of practice was judged to have been a more spirited performance, though the pass-offense still struggled.
"Coach Coughlin would prefer we stand up and take responsibility, rather than have the coaches push us," Coleman said. "We're still a work in progress. We're not where we need to be, but we plan to be on Sept. 8. We're going to be ready; I know it," he said of the Jaguars' regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
Quarterback Mark Brunell supported Coleman's address. "It was good; very timely. I thought that in the rest of the practice the guys responded. He has the guys' respect. That will only help our football team," Brunell said.
"What you can't afford to do as a player," Coughlin said, "is look ahead to anything. If you come out here and think you don't have to concentrate, then you won't be making the improvement you need to make."
Coughlin was asked to give his assessment of training camp, which will conclude next Monday, the only two-practices day left on the schedule.
"I describe it as a mixture of new players and old players. It's not been a real polished camp from an offensive standpoint. Our defense has done a pretty good job," he said.
Running back Fred Taylor gave on-lookers a brief scare at the end of practice when Taylor spent a few moments on the ground. "He just banged his thigh a little bit. I don't think it's anything," Coughlin said.
Wide receiver Darnay Scott (shoulder) will not play against the Bucs this Friday. Tony Brackens, Stalin Colinet and Micah Ross, all of whom are battling knee injuries, ran this morning. Coughlin said he would receive reports on that trio prior to this afternoon's practice.