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Estandia making his mark


Jaguars tight ends got a hard look and saw a lot of balls in their direction in Sunday morning's practice. Marcedes Lewis had his best practice in a long time, Jermaine Wiggins caught passes with his usual ease, and Greg Estandia continued to justify reports that he might be the position's sleeper player.

What is new coordinator Dirk Koetter's offensive scheme? Based on Sunday morning's practice, it sure appears as though the tight end will be a featured pass-catcher, and not just in a safety-valve or underneath-the-coverage capacity.

Koetter likes to get the ball to the tight end down the field. He likes to get the ball to the tight end in the deep seam, which is exactly where Estandia made an impressive catch this morning. Lewis, last year's first-round pick, made several down-the-field grabs.

That's the way it's supposed to happen for first-round picks. Lewis is expected to make those kinds of catches. It's understood that he'll be a featured pass receiver.

Estandia? No way. Not for a player who was undrafted and then cut in his first spring. Not for a player who, it was thought, was signed by the Jaguars because they needed another body at tight end.

All of a sudden, however, Estandia is a lot more than "just a guy." All of a sudden, there are rumors head coach Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars scouting department think Estandia is a player of distinct potential and upside.

"When I first came here, it was because of injury. I felt like they were just bringing me in as a guy to fill a place," Estandia said.

He hung on through the rest of 2006 spring practices and the Jaguars brought him to training camp. Then he showed the Jaguars enough in training camp that they decided he was worth keeping around longer.

"They asked me to be on their practice squad last year and I felt in doing that they believed I could be a player," Estandia said.

The Jaguars think so much of Estandia that he may have had more passes thrown in his direction this past spring than any other receiver on the team. The quip along the sideline was that Koetter's offense was going to feature Estandia. Maybe it will.

It sure featured the 6-8, 265-pound Estandia on Sunday morning. As was Lewis, Estandia was all over the field, catching practices deep down the seam, short over the middle, along the sideline and in the flat.

"I'm getting a lot of reps; especially in the offseason. They wouldn't have done that if they didn't believe I could play," Estandia said.

The tight end position is one of concern. Kyle Brady left in free agency and the big question is: Do the Jaguars have a tight end that can block anywhere near Brady's level?

There are other questions: Can Lewis stay healthy and become the go-to receiver the Jaguars envisioned when they drafted him? Does Wiggins, a veteran who's bounced around, have anything left in the tank? Is Estandia the real thing or just a tease?

"I think I can be a player on any team in this league," Estandia said.

That opinion would seem to be shared.

Sunday morning's practice was short; an hour and 15 minutes, as the Jaguars eased into their first full week of training camp. Paul Spicer, Andrew Carnahan, Mike Walker, Marcus Stroud, Reggie Hayward, Greg Jones and Bobby McCray did not practice.

Mike Peterson is one of the players recovering from surgery that ended his season prematurely last year, and Peterson said he's ready to go.

"Everybody is waiting for me to put the pads on. I'm ready, man," Peterson said.

Asked what the veteran players' expectations are for this season, Peterson said: "I'm looking to get into the playoffs, make some noise and surprise folks. I'm trying to get into the playoffs and shock the world."

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch worked out for Jaguars brass following Sunday morning's practice. Couch, the first pick of the 1999 draft, has been out of football the past three seasons. He played five seasons in Cleveland, where he threw 64 touchdowns passes, 67 interceptions and accumulated a 75.1 career passer rating.

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