Tom Coughlin gave a positive forecast for the start of training camp, predicting the Jaguars' top two draft choices will be under contract by Thursday's reporting deadline and declaring running back Fred Taylor's groin injury of last season a "nonissue."
"He's full go," Coughlin said of Taylor, whose recovery from a severe groin tear that caused him to miss the final 14 games of last season has been one of the burning questions of the offseason.
Taylor and his Jaguars teammates will report to Alltel Stadium this Thursday for Coughlin's traditional late-afternoon conditioning run. The following morning, the Jaguars will begin two-a-day practices.
With two days remaining before players report, attention is focused on first-round draft choice John Henderson and second-rounder Mike Pearson. Will the Jaguars sign both players to contracts before the official start of camp? Coughlin answered affirmatively.
"I expect that within the next couple of days these things will be resolved," he said.
As for today, the Jaguars received a signed contract from free-agent wide receiver Darnay Scott, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Jaguars that will pay Scott a league-minimum salary of $650,000. The contract includes no signing bonus but provides for incentives in pass receptions, yards receiving and average yards per catch. Scott does not qualify for the NFL's beneficial salary program because his incentives total more than $25,000.
Also on the contract front, wide receiver Jimmy Smith and offensive tackle Zach Wiegert are each seeking more money from the Jaguars in re-structured deals, but Coughlin said: "I expect both players to be there" for the start of training camp.
The Jaguars are about to begin a training camp that will be more hotly contested than any camp since the team's first few seasons in the league. Jobs are up for grabs and Coughlin intends to provide players with the opportunity to show their wares.
"I want to return to a real football mentality. There will be some more contact work. I want to work in pads a little more than we have the past couple of years. I want to do some more competitive drills," Coughlin said.
The only head coach in Jaguars history would seem to be emotionally charged for this summer's "retreat."
"I'm very much excited about it. I'm looking forward to this training camp as much as any training camp ever," he said. "It's the end of one phase and the beginning of another. You're not going to go more than two losing seasons without change somewhere."
Change came to the Jaguars this offseason in the form of a mass exodus of high-priced veterans. Tony Boselli, Gary Walker, Aaron Beasley, Kevin Hardy, Renaldo Wynn, Keenan McCardell and Hardy Nickerson have all departed, and most preseason predictions have the Jaguars at the bottom of the league. Coughlin's expectations, however, are much loftier.
"That's still the goal; the goal is to win the division," he said. "The past is the past. Let's move forward."