The Jaguars endured the hottest conditions of the spring in what was the most intense practice of the OTA season on Monday, and Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer was on hand to watch.
Meyer watched former Gators Reggie Nelson and Derrick Harvey, the Jaguars' last two first-round draft picks, and the rest of the Jaguars defense in its efforts to make the change from last year's bend-but-don't-break model to what is expected to be an attack-style scheme this season under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
"It's our scheme," linebackers coach Mark Duffner said. "There's not a lot of difference. The real focus is to do fewer things better. I think that's the real message from the head coach."
"We're playing the same stuff; we just cleaned up some of the clutter to allow us to play faster," linebacker Daryl Smith said.
Call it attack-style, blitz-style, disruptive or anything else that might suggest scheme-conscious, but to what degree the Jaguars embrace their new-found aggressiveness on defense will depend on the players' ability to execute it.
"As coach (Jack) Del Rio keeps watching the defense during OTAs, coach Del Rio and coach Williams will decide what phase of our defense we'll employ each week," Duffner said. "We're going to be an aggressive defense. We're going to be a physical, swarming, smart defense."
Intensity on the defensive side of the ball is symbolized by the linebacker position, where an intense training camp battle for starting jobs is expected. Justin Durant and Clint Ingram are expected to battle for the third and final starting spot, at strong side linebacker, but Ingram has been out of action for most of OTAs due to a sore ankle, and Durant has been playing the weak side position.
Del Rio has been a staunch advocate of cross-training his linebackers in spring practices, so where Durant and Smith are currently playing may not be an indication of where they'll play in training camp. In Ingram's absence, Smith is currently playing the strong side position.
"I'm not sure exactly what's going on. I'm just focusing on (weak side) right now," Durant said.
Durant was the Jaguars' second-round pick in 2007 and he played impressively after being forced into the lineup by Mike Peterson's hand injury late last season.
"I think he's already seeing the big picture, as far as diagnosing plays," Duffner said of Durant. "These guys aren't in a think mode; they're in a fast, attack mode."
There's that word, again. Attack! What no one's quite sure about is whether it's a word being used to describe scheme or mindset.
"That's what our coach (Williams) is known for – bringing pressure on the quarterback – so that's what we're going to do," said Durant, who believes the Jaguars have the talent to become a pressure defense.
"I want to be a starter. Everybody wants to be a starter. I want to be the best there is," Durant said.
What will it take for Durant to achieve his goals?
"I have to study more. I have to get stronger. I have to go out there with a be-the-best mentality every day," he added.
Quarterback David Garrard was at his best on Monday. Garrard's passes were sharp and on the money throughout the morning. He played on Monday as he did in training camp last season, when he made a rush to win the starting job from Byron Leftwich.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars signed first-year free agent wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe and waived undrafted wide receiver Derrek Richards. Thorpe, 6-0, 187, played in five games for the Indianapolis Colts last season and recorded 12 receptions for 70 yards and one touchdown. He also returned 15 kickoffs for 318 yards and six punts for 31 yards.