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Harris open for business


The "Barber Shop" is open in Alltel Stadium.

New Jaguars personnel director James Harris has "clippers" in hand and is open for "business," and his first official act in his new job will be to evaluate the team's roster of players.

"They have some core-type players to work with here," Harris said of what remains in the way of talent from the roster former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin left behind. "I'm familiar with the roster, but before we can speak to that we have to list our evaluations. We have some coaches coming in here who have no bias," Harris added.

"I feel we have enough (talent) to be competitive, but we need to do some detailed (evaluation) work," he said.

Harris is familiar with the Jaguars from the six years he spent with the Baltimore Ravens as their director of pro personnel. In Baltimore, Harris' office became known as the "Barber Shop," a meeting place for coaches and scouts to stop and talk football. New Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, an assistant in Baltimore for three years, was a frequent visitor to the "Barber Shop."

"You come down, talk football and discuss it openly, and Jack was a regular in the 'Barber Shop.' I got to know Jack and appreciate his real passion for the game," Harris said.

That relationship is two-thirds of a new three-pronged structure owner Wayne Weaver has designed for the team in the past month. Harris and Del Rio will work in concert with Jaguars salary cap boss Paul Vance. And while some believe a system that doesn't define final-say powers is doomed to fail, Harris is quick to support Weaver's initiative.

"I trust the people involved. The focal point is winning. As long as nobody puts ego ahead of winning, I think it's workable," Harris said of the decision-by-committee system. "I want Jack's input. I want other people's input, so we can come together and make the best decision. It's not about my reputation. It's about the Jaguars making the best decision."

Harris' reputation is for having brought productive free agents to the Ravens: Michael McCrary, Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams, Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe, Trent Dilfer, etc. As the Jaguars' director of personnel, Harris will also be responsible for evaluations on the college draft crop.

"College guys, you're grading for potential. Pro guys, you're grading on their actual value," Harris said.

In prospects from the college ranks, Harris said he will be looking for "athletic ability, competitiveness, smarts, play-making ability, height, weight, speed, character and history."

As far as finding players in free agency, Harris said "you have to respect the (salary) cap and you have to be prepared by establishing your needs, seeing what the free-agent value is and what is actually on the free-agent market."

Harris was introduced to the Jacksonville media in a press conference this afternoon. He spoke of being excited about his new job, which makes him one of the three highest-ranking African-American front-office executives in the NFL. The other two are Baltimore football operations director Ozzie Newsome and Arizona general manager Rod Graves.

"It's an exciting opportunity. I'm excited about Mr. Weaver's willingness to support and commit to winning; the working relationship I have with Jack Del Rio. I know his passion and commitment to winning. I've gotten to know Paul Vance. It looks like Jack put together a good coaching staff," Harris said in capsule evaluation of the situation he enters.

It would seem to be a perfect place to set up shop.

Meanwhile, Del Rio announced three more assistant-coach hirings. They are: assistant head coach Steve Shafer, running backs coach Anthony Lynn and tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts. Del Rio's staff is at 14, with one strength and conditioning coach and a defensive assistant still to be announced.

Shafer, 62, enters his 35th year of coaching and his 19th season in the NFL. In 2001, he served as assistant head coach and secondary coach for the Baltimore Ravens for the third season. He was part of the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl championship team, coaching All-Pros Rod Woodson and Chris McAlister.

Before joining Brian Billick's staff, Shafer tutored the Carolina Panthers' defensive backs in 1998, with his squad finishing fourth in the NFL with 19 interceptions. Prior to coaching the Oakland Raiders' secondary from 1995 to '97, he was the defensive coordinator at San Diego State in 1994. Shafer coached the defensive backs for the Tampa Bay Bucs (1991-93) and the Los Angeles Rams (1983-90).

Shafer was a five-year defensive back for the CFL's B.C. Lions after being drafted in the 11th round in 1963 by the San Francisco 49ers. He was a quarterback and defensive back at Utah State. He and his wife, Jane, have a son, Don, and a daughter, Shawn.

Lynn, 34, comes to Jacksonville after spending the last three seasons as a special teams assistant for the Denver Broncos. He joined the staff in August 2000 after his playing career was cut short because of repeated neck stingers. Lynn was one of the Broncos' top special teams players during his five years in Denver and brought an immediate impact to the special teams unit when he left the playing field and joined the coaching staff. In 2001, Denver's kickoff coverage team ranked third in the AFC, as opponents began their drives on average at their own 26.8-yard line.

He played seven seasons in the NFL as a fullback, including five with the Broncos (1993-94, 1997-99). Lynn was a college standout at Texas Tech, rushing for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns on 481 carries for his career. A native of Celina, Texas, Lynn and his wife Cynda have two children, D'Anton and Danielle.

Roberts, 37, has gained a wealth of championship experience in a very short time. He joined Howard Schnellenberger's coaching staff at Florida Atlantic University in 1999 after finishing up a football career that produced two Super Bowl championships with the Dallas Cowboys and two national championships at Miami. Roberts served as the receivers coach at Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton the last two years. He was recognized as one of the NFL's top blocking tight ends and was a key figure in Emmitt Smith's rise to the NFL rushing title in 1991. Selected in the eighth round of the 1988 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, Roberts was a member of two Super Bowl champion teams with the Cowboys in 1992 and '93.

A native of Hollywood, Fla., Roberts and his wife, Angel, have three children Avery, Austin, and Alyssa.

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