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Drops continue; preseason just ahead


The Jaguars concluded practice for the second time in three days with an interception by the defense in the offense's two-minute drill. Clearly, the defense has been ahead of the offense to date in this training camp, yet, coach Tom Coughlin hasn't exploded, despite practice after practice of overthrows and drops.

Today, veteran wide receiver Alvis Whitted, who continues to struggle catching the ball, dropped several passes.

Why is Whitted so inconsistent?

"That's a good question," Coughlin said. "He gets a little tired and loses his concentration."

Cornerback Fernando Bryant intercepted a Mark Brunell pass to end practice, but Brunell's performance in camp hasn't been at issue. The veteran star is throwing the ball as well as he ever has.

What has been at issue is the performance of backup quarterbacks Jonathan Quinn, Jamie Martin and Ted White. None of them have been impressive for any extended period of time.

Now, they begin facing their four litmus tests. That's especially true for Quinn this Friday, because he can be expected to be at quarterback for the majority of the preseason opener against the visiting Carolina Panthers. Martin has missed three consecutive days of practice with a sprained right foot and big toe, and it's not likely Martin will play against the Panthers.

Quinn won't be the only player under the microscope, but he will certainly be the most scrutinized. For Quinn, these are preseason games that will go a long way toward determining what interest he receives from other teams in unrestricted free agency next winter.

"The young guys are going to get a look. They're going to get a chance to play. There's going to be a great opportunity," Coughlin said. "I've been able to form opinions on players, but you have to be able to see them in games."

This is a chance for anxious players to erase the stigma of training camp disappointment, and Friday is the first of four preseason nights that will go a long way toward deciding what kind of roster depth the Jaguars will take into the season. These are critical games, as they pertain to the Jaguars' hopes this season, and to the careers of players such as Whitted and Quinn.

In other news from today's 3:30 p.m. practice, the only session of the day:

• Wide receiver Keenan McCardell sat out his fifth consecutive practice with a groin strain.

• Safety Carnell Lake (hamstring), defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (broken hand), tight end Damon Jones (knee) and guard Zach Wiegert (knee) increased their participation.

• Defensive lineman Larry Smith is apparently recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out of action last week.

• The Jaguars announced late yesterday that safety Craig Miller, who suffered a neck injury in practice on Aug. 2, has retired from football.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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