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Coughlin clings to hope of better times


It has passed too quickly for a young Jaguars team in the midst of major change. The Jaguars will break training camp tomorrow with as many unanswered questions as there were when they began camp a little more than three weeks ago.

These are the most difficult of times for head coach Tom Coughlin, who's urging his veteran players to assume distinct leadership roles on a team that makes the Jaguars' inaugural-season squad appear gray-haired.

"Even our '95 team was not this young. Every time it pops up, there's a young guy in a position to make a play," Coughlin said following this afternoon's practice.

It was the Jaguars' first return to the practice field since their embarrassing, 20-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs on Friday night. Through two preseason games, the Jaguars have scored but one touchdown and, now, the defense is even a subject of concern.

"I will have patience with preseason games, but not with the performance of the other night," Coughlin said.

The intense and often volatile Coughlin finds himself in a personal endurance test. He has broken into verbal tirades at times in this camp, but he has made a valiant attempt to remain calm while waiting for young players to prove they are worthy of the time being invested in them. Of course, the failures of the pass-offense have been the most difficult of Coughlin's travails. After all, it's his offense.

"My blood pressure is at an all-time high," he said jokingly to reporters today. "Every coach in the (tape) room has heard every profane word I can come up with, so I have to find a new vocabulary."

What Coughlin needs most, as camp comes to a conclusion, is reason to believe better days are ahead.

"I think it will definitely be a better team when we get to that," Coughlin said of finding a group of core players in whom he may trust. For now, the hunt continues.

At Coughlin's request, Mark Brunell, Donovin Darius and Kyle Brady spoke to the team on subjects the three selected. Last week, Marco Coleman used a water break in practice to address the team about making a better effort.

"They did a real good job," Coughlin said of Brunell's, Darius' and Brady's deliveries. "They were listening to one of their own. Some of these people had been through the good times and the bad times."

Coughlin has been through all of the good times and all of the bad times. He has been there since the beginning and, to a degree, he knows he's back at the beginning, again. To that end, owner Wayne Weaver told viewers during Friday night's telecast that this is "a learning year."

"I don't know about that. We have to be the best we can be. They're going to make you pay every price in this league, and that's OK," Coughlin said.

In a significant piece of news, Coughlin related that defensive end Tony Brackens participated in more extensive "sideline" drills today. "Hopefully he'll come out of this without any swelling (in the knee)," Coughlin said.

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