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Del Rio takes gloves off


Larry Smith's career with the Jaguars is not in the best of health.

On the second day of training camp practices, Smith collapsed in the heat of a morning practice. Last night, Smith was held out of practice by the medical team. Today, coach Jack Del Rio all but issued Smith an ultimatum to get fit or get out.

"He was held back," Del Rio said when he was asked to explain Smith's absence from last night's practice. Of course, the Jaguars instituted the night-practice regimen to assist players such as Smith in dealing with the training camp heat.

"I don't know what to say," Del Rio began after a long pause, during which he clearly was attempting to choose words that would soften his response.

"He's not in the best shape. It will all factor into a final decision. You're obviously not endearing yourself to the staff. We obviously haven't given up on him, because he's still here," Del Rio added.

Smith participated in this morning's practice, which Del Rio praised for its sharpness. Clearly, this is a time of critical opportunity for Smith, who could find himself in the starting lineup Saturday in Minnesota, depending on the condition of the knee injury defensive tackle Marcus Stroud sustained in Tuesday night's practice.

Del Rio reported that Stroud suffered no tears or breaks and that he is being treated with ice to reduce the swelling. Del Rio said he did not know if Stroud would play against the Vikings.

The Jaguars will keep "eight or nine" defensive linemen, Del Rio said. Smith is in a roster fight with Rob Meier, who was moved from defensive end to defensive tackle this season, Reggie McGrew, Clenton Ballard and Matt Leonard. Of course, Meier's versatility gives him a distinct advantage.

"We're looking for men to come in here and look for a spot to be a Jaguar," said Del Rio, who emphasized effort for Saturday's preseason opener.

"This league is about men trying to provide for their families. If they're hungry for a job, they need to show us," he added. "Some guys light up when it's real. I have to learn about this football team. I have to know how guys will respond when times get tough, or good. I have to learn that about this football team."

Del Rio wasn't ready to announce his quarterback rotation for Saturday's game, other than to say, "Mark, David and then Quinn." Apparently, Mark Brunell will get the starting nod, followed by David Garrard and Quinn Gray, though playing time was not forthcoming. "We have a plan. We'll have to see how the game unfolds," Del Rio said.

Meanwhile, Del Rio made his first somewhat terse remarks about first-round pick Byron Leftwich's holdout, which reached 13 days today. Negotiations yesterday between Paul Vance of the Jaguars and Leftwich's agent, Tom Condon, did not produce a contract.

"When they're out that long, there are diminishing returns on their ability to contribute this year," Del Rio said when asked when Leftwich's holdout will reach the point of damaging his chances of playing this season. "That point is coming soon," Del Rio added.

Garrard did not throw in this morning's practice. He was limited by a sore back.

Brunell made his most impressive throw of this training camp, dropping a long heave down the left sideline onto Jimmy Smith's fingertips. Smith had beaten cornerback Jason Craft.

In a four-kick competition among placekickers, Danny Boyd was four-for-four and James Tuthill and rookie Seth Marler were each three-for-four. The kicks were attempted from the 36, 38, 44 and 45-yard lines.

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