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Ellison leading the charge


All of a sudden, the Jaguars defensive line isn't nearly as much of a concern as it was when training camp began, when nearly everyone thought it was the Jaguars' number one trouble spot as they attempt to rebound from last year's 5-11 finish.

So what's happened to alter the perception? 1.) John Henderson has a good look about him. 2.) Derrick Harvey is making plays. 3.) Atiyyah Ellison has come out of nowhere to not-so-quietly turn in one of the best performances of training camp.

Of the three, Ellison's emergence is the most exhilarating because it was completely unexpected. A former third-round draft choice who failed to stick with four teams, Ellison came to the Jaguars off the 49ers' practice squad knowing he was facing desperation time. It was now or never.

Ellison turned in one of the big plays of Thursday morning's practice when he intercepted a David Garrard pass at the line of scrimmage in 11 on 11 drills. Had it been in a game, it would've been a pick-six.

"I think he's doing a great job," defensive line coach Ted Monachino said of Ellison. "He's taken a professional approach to everything he does. He's a guy our young guys can follow."

Ellison's performance has been solid from the start of training camp. In goal-line situations, it's usually been his shoulder pads that made the first pop. He's been the most dominant defensive lineman in camp and today he took his play to an even higher level.

"We're seeing what the guys in San Francisco thought; he's better in an attacking front. This is an every-downs tackle. He's got sneaky pass-rush ability. I don't see him as a run-stuffer. He's too athletic to be called anything but a football player," Monachino added.

Ellison has no explanation for the turnaround in his career.

"I guess it's a culmination of being fed up and being bounced around. Maybe this is just a good system for me. People seem to believe in me," he said. "I'm tired of moving. It's put a strain on my family."

If Ellison is the real thing, and if Henderson turns the clock back on his career and Harvey turns the clock forward on his, Monachino will be a candidate for assistant coach of the year. Expectations work that way, even though his expectations were much higher.

"I felt from the beginning that this group is good enough to make the playoffs. I'm not going to put any limits on them. We've got good pass-rushers, we've got run guys, guys that can do both," Monachino said.

The Jaguars need Harvey to become the premier pass-rusher for which they drafted him. In this camp, he has made gains. He turned in a top practice on Wednesday.

"He has shown the ability to take over periods," Monachino said.

Henderson had a flap with coach Jack Del Rio in the spring, in which Del Rio demanded a greater effort from the former Pro-Bowl defensive tackle.

"John practices and plays better with a smile on his face and right now he's happy to be here," Monachino added.

Maybe the expectations for the Jaguars defensive line need to be adjusted.

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