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Evaluation time


His team is coming off its first win of the season and spirits are high for a 1-1 team that all of a sudden believes this season could represent more than the first stage of a rebuilding process. But Tom Coughlin isn't one to allow his players' minds to wander.

The Jaguars were back on the practice field today following two days of bye-week vacation time. Coughlin immediately focused his players on improvement.

"We've got to solidify this field goal, extra point kick team," Coughlin said as he began a litany of improvements his team needs to make. "Defensively, we have to stop the run; we haven't done a good job of that. Offensively, take the 63-yarder out (of the running game) and it's not as good as it should be," he added.

This is the bye week. This is the time for careful introspection. This is evaluation time.

Coughlin believes strongly in the need for balance between run and pass, and in today's press conference he offered a strong balance of positives and negatives in evaluating the state of his team after two regular-season games.

"I think Tony (Brackens) is coming along. The schedule he's on is allowing him to make progress," Coughlin said of Brackens' rehab from offseason knee surgery.

The physical state of the Jaguars is a distinct improvement. Their injury report has been slight compared to those of the past two seasons.

"We had a more physical camp. We're younger and we're in good condition," Coughlin said in giving reasons for the lack of injuries.

The Jaguars' only new injury is the chest contusion Jason Craft suffered in this past Sunday's game. Craft did not practice today and continues to complain of soreness, discomfort and occasional bouts of having trouble breathing. Coughlin told reporters nothing is broken or torn but the injury is in a delicate area high in the chest.

Coughlin was especially balanced in his report on the team's kicking situation, where rookie kicker Hayden Epstein has not won the coach's confidence with a two-for-four field-goal performance.

"He's got to get that thing grooved," Coughlin said of Epstein's field-goal average, but added that Epstein's six touchbacks on kickoffs is a major positive. "You're cheering like heck for this guy to kick it into the end zone."

Coughlin's expectations for his defensive line are a little higher than the production over the first two weeks. "He could play better," the coach said of first-round pick John Henderson. "We need to play him more and get more out of him. I see a guy trying to do everything so perfect that he ties himself up."

Coughlin even evaluated his team's homefield advantage at Alltel Stadium, where the Jaguars will play the next two games, against the Jets and Eagles.

"It's not the way it used to be when it was sold out and loud. I will say the fans here for the opener were great," Coughlin said.

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