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Holt expects return to stardom


The right-angle bend in the middle finger on Torry Holt's left hand caught the reporter's attention.

What happened, the reporter asked?

"This is what I got out of the game, crooked fingers," Holt said, displaying a painful-looking finger that caused a female reporter to gasp. "I kept popping it out and popping it back in. In '07, I think it was against the Steelers, I popped it out and it didn't pop back in."

Holt, the NFL's 11th all-time leader in receptions, will display his crooked fingers for the Jaguars' three wide receiver draft picks this weekend. Instantly, they'll know what it takes to catch 869 passes for 12,660 yards and 74 touchdowns.

"I'm sure at some point they'll see it," Holt said with a smile.

Holt smiled throughout his first face-to-face meeting with the Jacksonville media on Thursday. He was upbeat and all business, and he made it clear that it's his business to lead the Jaguars in receiving and back to the playoffs.

"I don't expect anything less," Holt said when asked if he believes he can become a 1,000-yard receiver and a Pro-Bowl player again, following a down year that caused critics to say Holt has lost a step and may have lost his star quality.

He wants to prove his critics wrong.

"It just wasn't true," he said. "We had no continuity. Teams could do things to take me out of the ballgame. I was coming off '07 and the Pro Bowl and all of a sudden they don't want to use me."

His final year with the Rams, the only team for which Holt has played, was similar to Fred Taylor's final year with the Jaguars. Each player's departure is also similar. Holt left St. Louis as Taylor left Jacksonville, respectfully bidding farewell to a place where he had achieved greatness. Each moves on to a new stage in his career and Holt is dedicated to fixing what is wrong with the Jaguars passing game.

"My perception of the Jaguars has always been defense first. A football team is the direct identity of its coach. Obviously last year, for both sides of the ball, wasn't good. We'll run the football and the guys outside, when our numbers are called, have to step up and make plays," Holt said.

"We feel we can get a lot of eight-man boxes, which would allow us to get some one-on-ones. We have the potential to be really good," he added.

A few days after the Jaguars signed Holt to give a troubled wide receiver corps stability, the team drafted Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard and Tiquan Underwood. Fan perception is that Holt will mentor those young receivers, but Holt made it clear that he perceives them as threats to take his job.

"They're coming to take my position. I'm fighting for a job. That's the way everybody in this building should approach it. It'll be a challenge. It's good competition. Coming off a 5-11 season, we need competition," Holt said.

Holt has spent time in recent years as a TV studio analyst. He's a fan of football and studies it intently, and he's already done his homework on the three rookie receivers.

Which one reminds you the most of yourself, Holt was asked?

"Dillard," Holt said. "Incredible hands, smooth, does a really good job with his routes, has an incredible vertical leap.

"I try to use them to get me going," he said of the rookie receivers. "I'll do some mentoring as the season goes on but, at the same time, I have to focus on my job."

What will it take for the Jaguars to get back to the playoffs?

"You gotta have a good attitude, you gotta have good players and you gotta stay healthy," Holt said. "Can this team get there? I think so.

"To turn things around, you can't ask me to do that. That's not fair. But I can come in here and be a pro," he said.

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