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Iwuh camp sensation


He's a quiet kid. You even have to lean your ear toward him to hear what he's saying, but there's nothing timid about Brian Iwuh on the playing field.

If there's a rookie sensation through the first week of training camp, it's Iwuh. Nobody, but nobody, has been more impressive.

How well has the undrafted free agent from Colorado played? Well enough to be competing for something more than a roster spot? Is that ludicrous, linebackers coach Mark Duffner was asked?

"That's not ludicrous. That's a fact. He's competing for more than a roster spot. He's flashed enough to make that statement. The competition is intense," Duffner said.

Iwuh announced himself on Friday night by making one of the stand-out plays of the scrimmage. Iwuh sniffed out a swing pass for Maurice Jones-Drew, then chased down the pass and knocked it away. It was the kind of play you would expect of a savvy veteran, not an undrafted rookie.

"He can hunt," Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith said, which is coachspeak for "he knows how to find the ball." In other words, Iwuh knows how to play the game.

But there's more. Iwuh is not only smart, he's tough. He's been hardened by life and if good things are about to start happening for Iwuh, then he surely deserves it.

"I didn't know my dad," Iwuh said of his childhood in Houston.

During his sophomore year at Colorado, Iwuh was summoned home for the funeral of his stepfather, who succumbed to cancer. A few days after burying his stepfather, Iwuh's older brother, Dontay, died of a mysterious illness.

"That's how my life goes. You have to earn things," Iwuh said, quietly.

He earned the reputation of being a player to watch heading into his senior year last fall, but his season was compromised a bit by a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, and also by a nagging hamstring injury. Iwuh missed only one game.

At the Senior Bowl, he caught the Jaguars' eye. Then he re-injured the hamstring late in the game, which prevented him from working out at the scouting combine. He still hadn't recovered from the injury when he conducted his personal workout.

"That was all to our advantage and we were able to get him in free agency," Duffner said. "We've got a very athletic, highly instinctive football player. He's a guy who makes plays.

"He's a good run-and-hit guy. He has explosiveness in his play. He reminds me a little of Takeo Spikes," said Duffner, who coached Spikes in Cincinnati.

Iwuh is currently working at the weakside linebacker position. The Jaguars linebackers are versatile enough that where they're playing isn't nearly as important as how they're playing. The three guys who are playing the best will be the starters.

"He's a big hitter. So far, he's having a real strong camp. He's one of the early flashers," Duffner said.

"I plan on being a starter some day," said Iwuh, who knows his special teams play will be of critical importance in his quest to make the team. "I want to be the best I can be. It's a dream from when I was little," he added.

The Jaguars concluded their first full week of training camp on Saturday morning with the traditional mock game. The teal squad won, 17-15. Jack Del Rio was the head coach of the white team and the highlight of Del Rio's morning was overruling the officials on a mock replay-review play.

Sunday will be an off day for the Jaguars, who will next practice on Monday morning. Practices will remain open to the public through Aug. 11.

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