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Del Rio to get first look


Coach Jack Del Rio will use this weekend's mini-camp as an opportunity to view his players in action and get a read on their abilities and how they might apply to the Jaguars' draft needs.

"You have thoughts going into the draft, and this will help solidify those things," Del Rio told reporters today during a preview of this week's event.

The mini-camp, an extra three-day session awarded to the league's new head coaches, will offer Del Rio his first opportunity to meet with the team as a group. The four practices -- Friday at 2:15 p.m., Saturday at 9:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. and Sunday at 9:45 a.m. -- are not open to the public.

"I haven't even addressed this group yet. It'll be very clear what we expect of them. They may find it to their liking, and they may not. But that's not my concern," Del Rio said.

What is of concern to Del Rio is establishing the foundation of the Jaguars' new "West Coast offense," and all of the new ways of this new era in Jaguars football.

"We want to establish our system with our group and get a live look at them. It won't be in pads and it won't be in full contact, but it'll be a valuable experience for us," Del Rio said.

Veteran defensive end Tony Brackens will be the only player not participating. Brackens continues his recovery from microfracture knee surgery last fall. Del Rio said Brackens will be unable to practice until training camp.

So where does Brackens' future with the Jaguars stand after the addition of Hugh Douglas in free agency? Del Rio said moving Brackens from right defensive end to the left end position is a possibility. But most believe Brackens will first have to agree to a contract re-structuring that would significantly lower his base salary from its scheduled $5.5 million. He is scheduled to be an $8.2 million salary cap hit this season.

"Nothing has changed with Tony. As far as (Douglas and Brackens) being on the field at the same time, nobody in Jacksonville is against that," Del Rio said.

And as far as Brackens' contract, "All of that will work itself out between now and training camp," Del Rio added.

Another area of interest is linebacker, where high-priced free agency acquisition Mike Peterson takes the field. Peterson is a true weakside linebacker and Del Rio was asked if that automatically qualifies T.J. Slaughter for a move from weakside to middle linebacker, where there is a void.

"Those guys are going to play linebacker in a lot of different roles and I wouldn't get too caught up in positions. We're going to find the right combination for us," Del Rio said.

Del Rio recently worked out quarterback draft prospects Carson Palmer of USC and Byron Leftwich of Marshall, which surprised Jaguars fans since they believed the Jaguars were intent on retaining Mark Brunell as their starter and continuing the development of David Garrard as the heir apparent at the position. Maybe that's not set in stone.

"He's a good-looking prospect," Del Rio said of Leftwich. "Choosing between good players is a good thing, especially at quarterback. We're not afraid of adding another good one," Del Rio said.

A void exists on the offensive line, at either center or left guard, depending on the fate of Brad Meester, who may move from left guard back to his natural position of center.

"We feel confident we'll be able to address the offensive line and find that fifth starter, not only through the draft but also in free agency. (Meester) having flexibility certainly helps," Del Rio added.

Finally, Del Rio was asked about the status of cornerback Fernando Bryant, who was originally reported to be disenchanted with his contract situation and would not participate in voluntary offseason conditioning workouts. But those reports were incorrect.

Bryant's contract requires him to attend 80 percent of the team's offseason conditioning workouts, and Bryant said he will attend exactly 80 percent, which will qualify him to receive the $50,000 workout bonus his contract provides. Clearly, Bryant is making a statement that, like the Jaguars, he will live by the letter of his contract; nothing less, but nothing more.

"We want to establish our lines of communication with our players. Whatever problems we have, we want to know what they are," Del Rio said.

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