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His year of challenge


George Wrighster had already considered the question.

"Where do I fit in? I've thought about it," Wrighster admitted. "I'm going to play as hard as I can and fit myself in. I'm the only person who can control how well I play. I'm going to try to not give them a choice of whether to put me on the field. I'm going to make it so they have to."

Wrighster has never faced a year of greater challenge. This is his restricted free agent season. He is on a one-year leash. At the end of the 2006 season, the Jaguars will have to make a decision on Wrighster, either to sign him to a new contract or let him escape into free agency.

The Jaguars made tight end Marcedes Lewis their first-round draft choice and all indications are that Lewis is going to become a major target of quarterback Byron Leftwich's passes this season. Wrighster had been the Jaguars' pass-catching tight end. Now, it would seem, Lewis is destined for that role. Kyle Brady, of course, remains the team's blocking tight end.

So, where, in fact, does Wrighster fit in? It's a fair question. Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between. Maybe Wrighster is destined to become a Lewis-Brady hybrid.

How's your blocking George?

"My blocking is better. It was better last season and it's going to be even better this season," Wrighster said.

If Wrighster's blocking is truly improved, he could offer the Jaguars something they don't have: a tight end who can block and catch. That's where he would fit in, as an every-downs replacement for Brady who could provide a second tight end threat in the passing game.

"Ideally, I'd like to be the guy. My goal has never been to just … I feel like I have special talents and abilities, and I feel like those are more than spot-down abilities. I feel like those are every-down abilities; the ability to block and receive," Wrighster said.

Since being selected in the fourth round of the 2003 draft, Wrighster has had his moments as a pass-catcher. He had a coming-out game against Tennessee early in the '04 season. A back injury stopped him in his tracks, however, and it wasn't until midway through last season that Wrighster felt he was fully recovered.

"This is the first time since I've been here that I've been healthy," Wrighster said. "I know I have the ability to be a special player. This offseason, I've worked harder than I ever have in my life."

As often is the case, a player's fourth pro season is his turning-point year. Akin Ayodele was an RFA last season and it resulted in a $5 million signing bonus with the Cowboys this offseason.

Wrighster and Ayodele have the same agent and the Jaguars tight end knows the drill. This is the year of challenge. He's being challenged to show where he fits in.

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