TODAY'S GAME: The Jacksonville Jaguars open the first chapter in the regular-season history of the NFL's newest team as they host the Houston Oilers in the inaugural game of their "Season of Firsts." While the Jaguars begin with a clean slate, the AFC Central Division rival Oilers hope to rebound from a disappointing 1994 season.
RADIO BROADCAST: This game will be broadcast on WOKV (690 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network, with play-by-play man Brian Sexton and color analysts Matt Robinson and Deron Cherry. Reporter Jennifer Kumik will contribute to the pre-game and half-time shows. More than 30 affiliates in five states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game. Sexton, 26, is the NFL's youngest play-by-play announcer, while Robinson and Cherry bring a total of 17 years of NFL playing experience to the broadcast booth.
TELEVISION BROADCAST: The Jaguars' regular-season opener will be televised regionally by NBC and locally on WTLV, Channel 12. Calling the action will be veteran broadcasters Don Criqui and Beasley Reece.
THE SERIES: This is the first game between the Jaguars and Oilers. They will play again during the regular season on October 1 when the Jaguars travel to the Houston Astrodome. A Jaguars victory over the Oilers would be only the second time in NFL history an expansion team won its first regular-season game. In 1961, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Chicago Bears 37-13. And an Oilers victory over the Jaguars would be their first Opening Day win since 1991.
THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin led the Jaguars to two victories in five preseason games this year. Coughlin served as the head coach at Boston College from 1991 to '93, compiling a record of 21-13-1, with two appearances in bowl games and a ranking of 13th in the final AP poll of 1993. He was previously an NFL assistant coach with the New York Giants (wide receivers, 1988-90), Green Bay Packers (wide receivers and passing game coordinator 1986-87) and Philadelphia Eagles (wide receivers, 1984-85).Houston coach Jeff Fisher is in his first full season as the Oilers' head coach after taking over as interim coach on November 14 of last year. He compiled a 1-5 record in 1994 and was officially named head coach on January 5. One of the highest-regarded defensive coordinators in the NFL, Fisher had spent the 1992 and '93 seasons as the 49ers' defensive coordinator, and he held the same position with the Rams in 1991. From 1989 to '90 he was Philadelphia's defensive coordinator, following three years as the Eagles' defensive backs coach. Fisher was a defensive back with the Chicago Bears from 1981 to '85.
INJURY UPDATE: Jacksonville Jaguars -Out: TE Derek Brown (rib), OT Tony Boselli (knee), DE Ernie Logan (wrist); probable: FB Le'Shai Maston (knee), LB Keith Goganious (ankle). Houston Oilers -Out: CB Steve Jackson (hamstring), TE Michael Roan (shoulder); questionable: DE Kenny Davidson (knee), LB Barron Wortham (knee).
INACTIVE PLAYERS: The following players were designated as inactive on Friday (four more players from each team will be designated as inactive 1 1/2 hours before kickoff): Jacksonville -DE Ernie Logan, OT Tony Boselli, TE Derek Brown, TE Craig Keith, LB Ashley Sheppard, S Chris Hudson and C/OT Greg Huntington; Houston -C/G Hicham El-Mashtoub, CB Steve Jackson, OT/C Jim Reid and TE Michael Roan.
ROSTER MOVES: On August 27, the Jaguars released nine players and made one trade to reduce their roster to the NFL limit of 56 players. Released were: PK Scott Sisson, FB Dexter McNabb, DE Jason Simmons, WR Curtis Marsh, G's Paul Siever and Rich Tylski, LB's Brant Boyer and Ryan McCoy and DB Deral Boykin. In addition, the team traded WR Mike Williams to the Miami Dolphins for rookie TE Pete Mitchell. On August 31, the Jaguars placed CB Al Jackson (torm anterior cruciate ligament) on injured reserve and re-signed CB Rogerick Green, who had been cut on August 19. Green was originally obtained by the Jaguars in the expansion draft. The Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers may carry 56 players on their active rosters for the first three games of the regular season, while the NFL's other 28 teams have the regular-season limit of 53 players. The Oilers made the following transactions to get down to the 53-man limit: Waived -TE Pat Carter, LB James Logan, DT Jeremy Nunley, S C.J. Richardson, WR Jasper Strong; placed on injured reserve -S Bryan Addison, WR Reggie Brown, S Danny Copeland, S Willie Gaston, OT Purvis Hunt, QB Lee Williamson. On Wednesday they signed S Chuck Cecil, and on Friday they waived DE Scotty Lewis and re-signed DE Jeremy Nunley.
JACKSONVILLE-HOUSTON CONNECTIONS: Two former Houston Oilers start on the Jaguars' offense -WR Ernest Givins and FB Le'Shai Maston. Givins is the all-time leading receiver in Oilers history with 542 catches and 7,935 yards, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl (1990, 1992). … Jaguars offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was the assistant head coach/offense for the Oilers for the past two years (1993-94) after serving as their offensive coordinator for the previous four years (1989-1992). Two Oilers played collegiately in the state of Florida: LB Micheal Barrow played for the University of Miami, T David Williams played at the University of Florida … Jacksonville rookies OT Tony Boselli and QB Rob Johnson played at the University of Southern California with Oilers WR Travis Hannah. … Oilers LB Joe Bowden played at Oklahoma with Jaguars DT Corey Mayfield. … Houston starting QB Chris Chandler attended the University of Washington, the alma matter of Jaguars QB Mark Brunell. … Oilers P Rich Camarillo and Jaguars starting QB Steve Beuerlein were teammates with the Arizona Cardinals. … Oilers WR and kick return specialist Mel Gray played in Detroit with Jaguars Kelvin Pritchett, Harry Colon and Shawn Bouwens. … Houston TE Frank Wycheck played on the Washington Redskins with Jaguars WR Desmond Howard. … Oilers C Mark Stepnoski was a member of the Super Bowl XXVIII champion Dallas Cowboys with Jacksonville CB Dave Thomas and C Frank Cornish. … Oiler DT/DE Craig Veasey played last season with the Dolphins with Jaguars OT Jeff Novak. … Houston WR Derek Russell was a member of the Broncos' receiving corp with Jaguars WR Cedric Tillman the past four seasons.
GIVINS MOVING UP: Jaguars WR Ernest Givins celebrates his 31st birthday today. He also plays for the first time against his former team. In nine seasons with the Oilers, Givins caught 542 passes for 7,935 yards to rank high among the NFL's active statistical leaders: Player Team Receptions Player Team Receiving Yards
Jerry Rice San Francisco 820 Jerry Rice San Francisco 13275
Andre Reed Buffalo 676 Henry Ellard Washington 11158
Henry Ellard Washington 667 Gary Clark Miami 10331
Gary Clark Miami 662 Andre Reed Buffalo 9536
Ernest Givins Jacksonville 542 Irving Fryar Miami 8006
Ernest Givins Jacksonville 7935
TODAY'S ENTERTAINMENT: The pre-game and halftime entertainment feature the theme ìWe're in the NFL.î The National Anthem will be sung by Motown recording artists Boyz II Men and will include pyrotechnic displays and a jet flyover by The Bulls of VFA-37 at the Naval Air Station at Cecil Field. The halftime show features the American All-Stars and Leanza Cornett, the 1993 Miss America and Jacksonville native, in a high-energy song, dance and special effects extravaganza. And, last but not least, two card stunts will be performed by the 73,000 fans in attendance just before the teams return to the field for the second half.
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will play their first regular-season road game -and their second against an AFC Central Division opponent -when they travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals at 4:00 p.m. EDT September 10 at Riverfront Stadium. The Bengals were 1-3 during the preseason and will face the Indianapolis Colts today. The Oilers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday.