THIS WEEK: Coming off a victory in their preseason opener, the AFC Central Division champion Jacksonville Jaguars will make their first road trip of the 1999 preseason when they travel to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants at 7:00 p.m. Saturday at Giants Stadium. It will be in the same place the Jaguars saw their 1998 season end, when they lost to the New York Jets in the Divisional Playoffs last January 10. The game marks the fourth time the two teams have faced in the preseason, with Jacksonville holding a 2-1 edge. The Jaguars have an 11-7 record in the preseason in their five seasons. Jacksonville's 11-5 record during the 1998 regular season tied for the best mark in franchise history with the 1997 team, which lost a tiebreaker for the division championship. The Jaguars became the first AFC Central team other than the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the division since 1993, the year the Jaguars were awarded an expansion franchise and two years before they began play. The Jaguars have the fourth-best record in the NFL over the last 37 regular-season games. Their 27-10 record in that time trails only Denver, San Francisco and Green Bay and is tied with Minnesota. The Jaguars also have a 21-3 home record over the last three seasons, the fourth-best mark in the NFL after Denver, Green Bay and San Francisco. TELEVISION BROADCAST: The Jaguars-Giants game will be televised locally by WTLV Channel 12, with Dan Hicken calling the play-by-play, former Jaguars defensive end Jeff Lageman adding analysis and Jeff Prosser reporting from the sidelines. The game will also be televised live in Orlando (WKMG), Savannah (WSAV), Gainesville (WGFL) and on Sportschannel Florida (on tape delay). RADIO BROADCAST: All of the Jaguars' games are broadcast on WOKV (690 AM), WBWL (600 AM) and WKQL (96.9 FM) and the Jaguars Radio Network. Brian Sexton calls the play-by-play and former NFL quarterback Matt Robinson adds analysis, with Jennifer Kumik serving as a sideline reporter in the preseason. Sexton and Robinson are in their fifth season together. Robinson, Kumik, Vic Ketchman and Cole Pepper handle the pre-game show, and Pepper and ex-Oakland Raider Pete Banaszak do the post-game show. A total of 18 affiliates in three states on the Jaguars Radio Network will also broadcast the game. THE OPPONENT: The Giants are the fourth-oldest team in the NFL, having played their first game in 1925. They have won two Super Bowls (1986 and 1990) and four championships, and they played in the NFL title game 11 other times. In 1997, Jim Fassel's first season as head coach, the Giants finished 10-5-1, winning the NFC East for the first time since 1990 and becoming the 15th team in NFL history to finish in first place a year after finishing in last place. Last season the Giants slipped to 8-8 and third place in the division. They are quarterbacked by Kent Graham and Kerry Collins. THE SERIES: This is the fourth preseason meeting in five years between the Jaguars and the Giants, and the two teams have played once in the regular season, with Jacksonville holding a 1-0 edge. The Jaguars defeated the Giants 40-13 in the second game of the 1997 regular season. In preseason, the Jaguars hold a 2-1 edge, having won the last two years following the Giants' victory in 1996. THE LAST TIME: The Jaguars defeated the Giants 40-13 on September 6, 1997 behind then-third-string quarterback Steve Matthews, as they set then-franchise records for most points scored in a game and for biggest margin of victory. Matthews completed 23 of 35 passes for 252 yards in making the first start of his career. Natrone Means and James Stewart each rushed for two touchdowns, and Mike Hollis kicked four field goals in four attempts, as the Jaguars scored 20 points in the second quarter and 17 in the fourth. Jimmy Smith had his second straight 100-yard receiving game, and Keenan McCardell and Stewart had four catches apiece. The Jaguars held the Giants to 206 yards on offense - 53 of them on New York's final drive. The Giants had just 13 first downs, 39 rushing yards and converted only 2 of 13 third-down opportunities. In last year's preseason, the Jaguars beat the Giants 24-10 on August 14 at ALLTEL Stadium. Jacksonville held New York to 174 yards on offense, while the Jaguars rushed for 219 yards and had 347 total yards. New York was only 1 for 13 on third-down conversions and managed just seven first downs in the game. Mark Brunell played the first quarter and connected with Jimmy Smith on a five-yard touchdown pass, as the Jaguars jumped out to a quick lead and held the Giants to 15 yards and no first downs in the first quarter. Tavian Banks reversed field and ran for a 59-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and Alvis Whitted caught a 31-yard TD pass from Jonathan Quinn in the fourth quarter. Banks ran for 81 yards on six carries, and James Stewart added 70 yards on nine rushes for the Jaguars. A JAGUARS VICTORY OVER THE GIANTS WOULD: Give them a 2-0 record in the 1999 preseason and a 12-7 record in five years. It would also give them a 3-1 record vs. the Giants in the preseason. INJURY UPDATE: Injured in the Carolina game were: wide receiver Alvis Whitted (strained groin) and linebacker Anthony Hicks (strained hamstring). Twelve players did not play in the game because of injuries: RB Tavian Banks (hamstring), FB Trevor Bollers (knee), G Ben Coleman (knee), DE Eric Curry (ankle), WR Damon Dunn (hamstring), G Todd Fordham (knee), TE Rich Griffith (knee), LB Bryce Paup (pectoral muscle), DT Seth Payne (shoulder), DE Joel Smeenge (shoulder), RB James Stewart (knee) and RB Fred Taylor (ribs). THE COACHES: Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin (35-29 in regular season, 3-3 in postseason, 11-7 in preseason) has led the Jaguars to the playoffs each of the last three seasons - a first for an NFL expansion team and one of only six teams in the NFL to do so - and the 1998 AFC Central Division championship with an 11-5 record. They defeated the New England Patriots in a Wild-Card game before losing to the New York Jets in the Divisional playoffs. In 1997, the Jaguars finished 11-5 and finished second in the AFC Central, and they were defeated by Denver in the Wild-Card playoffs. In their second season in 1996, the Jaguars advanced all the way to the AFC Championship game, finishing the regular season in second place in the division with a 9-7 record. In the playoffs, the Jaguars upset the Bills and Broncos on the road before losing at New England. In 1995, Coughlin's Jaguars finished with four victories in their inaugural season. He became head coach of the Jaguars on February 21, 1994 following three successful seasons as head coach at Boston College. Coughlin compiled a record of 21-13-1 from 1991 to '93 at Boston College, and had two appearances in bowl games and a ranking of 13th in the final AP poll of 1993. A veteran of 30 years of coaching, 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). Giants head coach Jim Fassel (18-13-1, 0-1) led his team to an 8-8 record in 1998 after a grand debut in '97, when he led the Giants to a 10-5-1 record. They were the first NFC Eastern Division champion to go undefeated in the division. Fassel spent one season as offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals in 1996, following a year with the Oakland Raiders as quarterbacks coach. Fassel was an assistant with the Giants as quarterbacks coach (1991) and offensive coordinator (1992). He spent two seasons as the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator for Denver (1993-94). Under Fassel's tutoring, John Elway won NFL most-valuable-player honors and set a Broncos' record with 4,030 passing yards in 1993. He also had groomed Elway at Stanford, where Fassel was the offensive coordinator (1979-1983). Fassel was offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL (1984). COUGHLIN RANKED AMONG LEAGUE'S TOP COACHES: With every regular-season victory, Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin moves up on two lists when compared to other elite active NFL head coaches. In 1998, Coughlin had six victories in eight games vs. AFC Central teams and seven wins in eight home games. Coughlin has the fifth-best record of all current NFL coaches in division games and the fifth-best record in home games (minimum of 16 home games). Records include all teams coached by an individual during the regular season.
RECORDS IN DIVISION GAMES RECORDS IN HOME GAMES Rk. Coach W L Pct. Rk. Coach W L Pct. 1. George Seifert 39 13 .750 1. Mike Holmgren 49 7 .875 2. Mike Shanahan 30 14 .682 2. Mike Shanahan 34 8 .809 3. Mike Holmgren 37 19 .661 3. Bill Cowher 45 11 .803 4. Bill Cowher 33 17 .660 4. George Seifert 51 13 .797 5. Tom Coughlin 21 11 .656 5. Tom Coughlin 23 9 .718
JACKSONVILLE-GIANTS CONNECTIONS: Jaguars' head coach Tom Coughlin was born in Waterloo in upstate New York. He was the Giants' receivers coach from 1988 to '90, contributing to the Super Bowl XXV victory over Buffalo in his last season with the Giants. … Giants TE Pete Mitchell played for the Jaguars from 1995 to '98 … Giants S Tre Thomas was in the Jaguars' training camp in 1998 … Jaguars newly signed G Rob Zatechka played for the Giants from 1995 to '98 … TE coach Fred Hoaglin was the Giants' offensive line coach from 1985 to '92 … Jaguars' special teams coach Larry Pasquale was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. … The Jaguars have six players with ties to the state of New York: DT Seth Payne (Victor and Cornell), QB Jay Fiedler (Oceanside, N.Y), LB Erik Storz (Rockaway, N.J.), G Tom Claro (Floral Park, N.Y.), DT Kevin Landolt (Burlington, N.J.) and Donovin Darius (Syracuse) … Jaguars wide receivers coach Pete Carmichael was born in Plainfield, N.J. and attended Plainfield High … OL coach Mike Maser was born in Clayton, N.Y. … Strength and conditioning coach Jerry Palmieri was born in Englewood, N.J. … The Giants have four players from the state of Florida: DT Robert Harris (Riviera Beach), LB Jessie Armstead (University of Miami, where he was a teammate of Jaguars OT Leon Searcy), G Ron Stone (Boston College, where he played with Jaguars LB Tom McManus at Boston College under Coughlin), and WR Ike Hilliard (University of Florida, where he was a teammate of Fred Taylor on Florida's 1996 national championship team) … Jaguars' OT Tony Boselli was a teammate of Giants CB Jason Sehorn at Southern California … Jaguars RB James Stewart, Giants LB Scott Gaylon and Giants CB Jeremy Lincoln were teammates at the University of Tennessee … Jaguars TE Mark Thomas and WR Alvis Whitted played with Giants DE George Williams at North Carolina State … Jaguars PK Mike Hollis and Giants LB Ryan Phillips where teammates at the University of Idaho … Jaguars WR Damon Dunn played with Giants FB Greg Comella at Stanford … Giants' DB coach Johnnie Lynn was the LB coach at the University of Arizona when Jaguars LB Brant Boyer and TE Rich Griffith played for the Wildcats.
TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE: The Jaguars are in their third full week of training camp. Practice times for this week will be as follows: Monday and Tuesday: 8:40 a.m. and 3:20 p.m.; Wednesday: 3:20 p.m.; Thursday: 8:40 a.m. and 3:20 p.m.; Friday: closed walk-through at stadium and travel to New York. Player interviews are from 11:15 to 12:15 on Sunday through Thursday at the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel. Practices are held at Ferrell Practice Fields adjacent to ALLTEL Stadium. Check with the Jaguars' Communications office (633-6000) to schedule interviews.
NEXT WEEK: The Jaguars will host the Kansas City Chiefs at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, August 26 in a nationally televised game from ALLTEL Stadium on CBS-TV. It will be the second preseason meeting between the two teams, with Kansas City winning 22-21 last year.
LAST WEEK: The Jaguars won their 1999 preseason opener 35-10 over the Carolina Panthers, featuring a productive offense and a swarming defense. Jacksonville jumped out to a 28-7 halftime lead and held the Panthers to eight first downs and only 178 yards total offense. Meanwhile, the Jaguars were led on five touchdown-scoring drives by three different quarterbacks and piled up 460 yards on offense. Mark Brunell played the first two series and led the team to a touchdown on a 43-yard TD pass to Keenan McCardell. Brunell's second series ended when a 4th-and-goal play from Carolina's 1-yard line failed. Jonathan Quinn played about half of the game and led the Jaguars to three touchdowns. He connected with McCardell on a 44-yard TD pass and TE Damon Jones for a 30-yard score. Chris Howard scored on a six-yard run and rookie Stacey Mack added a five-yard TD run in the fourth quarter when Jay Fiedler was at quarterback. The Jaguars' defense played under new coordinator Dom Capers - the former Carolina head coach - for the first time. Carolina's only touchdown came five plays after a 74-yard kickoff return, and the Panthers managed only one drive longer than 36 yards all night, as the Carolina offense drove into Jaguars' territory only twice. The Panthers' 10 points tied for the second-fewest ever allowed by the Jaguars in a preseason game.
NOTES FROM THE PANTHERS GAME: The Jaguars' victory gave them a 11-7 preseason record in five seasons and a 2-2 mark against the Panthers in four exhibition games … The 25-point margin of victory was the Jaguars' second-most ever in a preseason game … The Jaguars led the Panthers in first downs (26 to 8), total yards (460 to 178), rushing yards (194 to 45), passing yards (266 to 133) and time of possession (36:28 to 23:32) … In his only two series of action, Mark Brunell completed 4 of 5 passes for 76 yards and one TD. Jonathan Quinn was 8 of 15 for 144 yards, two TDs and one interception, Jay Fiedler was 4 of 7 for 46 yards, and Will Furrer played did not attempt a pass. … Keenan McCardell caught four passes for 108 yards and two TDs … Rookie Stacey Mack and Chris Howard led the team with 64 yards rushing each (Mack on 17 carries, Howard on 12). Each scored one touchdown. George Jones started the game and ran 11 times for 51 yards. … Each team had one turnover (both on interceptions). … The Jaguars had four sacks in the game, by Lamanzer Williams, rookie Larry Smith and Brant Boyer, while Kevin Hardy and Tony Brackens shared a sack. … Steve Lindsey handled kickoffs for the Jaguars. He kicked off six times, with four going into the end zone and the others to the 1- and 5-yard lines. However, the Panthers did return four of the kicks for a total of 150 yards, including a 74-yarder. … Bryan Barker punted three times for a 48.0-yard average, with one touchback, none inside the 20 and a long of 56. He had two punts returned for 13 yards. … WLB Kevin Hardy led the team with 5 tackles (3 solo), followed by S Donovin Darius and MLB Bryan Schwartz with four tackles each. … Every healthy player who dressed played in the game. … Jaguars captains were P Bryan Barker, WR-KR Reggie Barlow, S Donovin Darius and LB Brant Boyer.
FROM COACH TOM COUGHLIN ON THE CAROLINA GAME: "It was a good start. We came out and did a lot of good things in the first half. Offensively and defensively, we kind of fed off each other. We got to play a lot of people in a lot of situations. We got some big plays tonight. We played some stout defense and had contributions from a lot of people. But we have a long way to go. But I'm most impressed with the fact that we played hard, and I hope that this group will not be satisfied with anything. This will be a key week for us improvement-wise." (on backup QB Jonathan Quinn) "I think he met my expectations, particularly in the first half. In the second half we had a couple of balls that people were wide open and we didn't get them the ball, and we had a couple of holding penalties. But I thought he did a good job in the first half when he was in there." (on calling the plays) "It was fun. I was able to watch the other (areas of the team) because of the score. When we jumped out in front, it gave me an opportunity to assess the defense and keep my eye on the field and not have to spend so much time talking to the offensive coaches about what we wanted to do next. I have a great deal of faith in our staff and I don't think that will be a problem. There will be some days when I'll be distracted, no doubt about it. And there'll be days when things don't go well offensively that'll be my main concern, trying to get that right." (on kickoff coverage) "I certainly didn't like kickoff coverage again. That's nothing new. We did kick the ball in the end zone tonight and we still had problems. That's not the answer to all those problems." (on the line play) "I thought Larry Smith did have some penetration, and he did a good job. I was impressed with the second offensive line. I wasn't sure how they would do. We ran the ball. Howard had a nice day and Stacey Mack was able to lay it up in there, too."
FROM QB MARK BRUNELL: "It was fun. We had hoped to see exactly what we saw-the defense was flying around and making plays, the offense was making some big plays and scoring points and special teams was doing the job as well. I know we'll look at films and find some things to work on, but this being the first preseason game, I think for the most part we're very pleased. It was better than some preseason games we've had. You expect to be a little sloppy and make some errors. But I thought all the quarterbacks managed their teams and moved the ball down the field. The tempo was good, and we were able to use the hard count, which was good for us."
FROM CB FERNANDO BRYANT: (on his first game as a pro) "Everything goes a lot quicker. It was good to get my feet wet and get the kinks out in a real game. It felt pretty good. I just need to work on my breaks more to get more consistent. I also need to get a little more aggressive. Being my first game, I was a little anxious. Next game I just can't worry about it as much."
FROM DT LARRY SMITH: (on his first game) "I told myself when I got out there, I was going to give it 100 percent on every down. After the first series, when Gary Walker came out, I asked what they were in and what they were doing. He told me to just go out and play."
NEW FACES: Here's a quick look at the Jaguars' 10 new veteran players who are on the 1999 training camp roster: TE Kyle Brady - Signed as a transition free agent from the Jets, Brady is a four-year veteran who set career highs in 1998 when he caught 30 passes for 315 yards and five touchdowns. He is also considered an outstanding blocker. He caught one pass for 23 yards in the preseason opener. QB Jay Fiedler - A fourth-year pro who saw action in five games last season as a backup with the Vikings. Fiedler was a record-setting passer at Dartmouth who spent 1994 and '95 with the Eagles. He is competing for the No. 3 spot at quarterback. In the preseason opener, he led the team to a touchdown drive. LB Anthony Hicks- A third-year veteran who spent both the 1997 and '98 seasons on the Green Bay Packers' injured reserve list. Hicks was a fifth-round draft choice who is competing for a backup role at strongside linebacker. He suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason opener. G-OT Steve Ingram - A fourth-year lineman who can play either guard or tackle, Ingram was a seventh-round draft choice of the Buccaneers in 1995, when he played in two games. He was on injured reserve in 1997 and on the Bucs' practice squad in '98. He played tackle with the second team in the preseason opener. S Carnell Lake - A perennial Pro Bowler who signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Steelers, Lake starts at free safety. A big-play maker and four-time Pro Bowler, Lake has 21.5 career sacks, 16 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries, 16 interceptions and five touchdowns in 10 seasons. He started the preseason opener at free safety. FB Tim Lester - One of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL, the former Steeler helped Jerome Bettis rush for more than 1,000 yards each of the last three seasons. Lester was signed as a veteran free agent on August 15. He has started 52 of 85 games played in his career. LB Lonnie Marts - Signed five days after being released by the Titans, Marts has taken over at strongside linebacker because of Bryce Paup's injury. In nine seasons with the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Oilers, Marts has 15 sacks, four interceptions, 18 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. He started the preseason opener at strongside linebacker, making two tackles. DT Gary Walker - A run-stopping interior lineman who can also rush the passer, Walker had 16 sacks in four seasons with the Oilers. He was signed as an unrestricted free agent and starts at defensive tackle alongside Seth Payne. He started the preseason opener and made one tackle and one QB pressure. G Zack Wiegert - An Outland Trophy winner at Nebraska and first-round draft choice of the Rams in 1995, Wiegert has started 46 games at both guard and tackle. He is competing with Rich Tylski for the starting job at right guard (where he started the preseason opener, with Tylski playing left guard for an injured Ben Coleman). G Rob Zatechka - A four-year veteran from the New York Giants who was signed on August 15, Zatechka spent all of 1998 on injured reserve (shoulder). In his first three seasons, he played in 47 of 48 games, making nine starts at both left and right guard.
1999 POSITION ANALYSIS: Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the Jaguars: Quarterbacks (4): Mark Brunell is back after a record-setting year in which he threw 20 TD passes and led the Jaguars to 10 of their 11 victories. He was the AFC's fourth-rated passer in 1998, with a 89.9 rating, the second-highest of his career. Brunell has a 31-22 record as the starting quarterback. Second-year pro Jonathan Quinn is the backup. Quinn started the final two regular-season games in '98, losing to Minnesota and beating Pittsburgh. He completed 34 of 64 passes for 387 yards, two TDs and three interceptions for a 62.4 rating. Veterans Will Furrer and Jay Fiedler are battling for the No. 3 job. Running Backs (9): Fred Taylor returns after a rookie season in which he broke nearly all of the Jaguars single-season rushing records and set 29 marks in all. After replacing an injured James Stewart early in the season's third game, Taylor rushed for 1,223 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, tied for second in the NFL. He also caught 44 passes for 421 yards. Stewart has been limited throughout training camp from last September's knee surgery but is expected to play during the preseason. He is the Jaguars' all-time leading rusher, and he gained more than 100 yards in each of the first two games in '98. Tavian Banks will find himself in a number of positions, including halfback, wide receiver and slotback. As a rookie, he played in only six games because of a foot injury, but he started in the Divisional playoff game alongside Taylor. Daimon Shelton starts at fullback for the second straight year, but veteran Tim Lester was added on Sunday. In 1998, Shelton paved the way for Taylor's sensational rookie season, but he also rushed for 95 yards and a TD on 30 carries. Wide Receivers (10): The tandem of Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell is back for its fourth year. Smith, who holds all four of the team's major career receiving records, leads the NFL with 3,750 receiving yards over the last three years. He also set a personal best with eight TDs in 1999. McCardell battled injuries in 1998 and slipped to 64 receptions and 892 yards, but he also set career highs with six TDs and a 13.9-yard average per reception. He led the team in receiving in both 1996 and '97. The No. 3 spot is open, with Reggie Barlow, Alvis Whitted and Will Moore the leading candidates. Barlow, one of the league's top kick returners, was the No. 3 receiver in 1998, when he caught 11 passes for 168 yards. Whitted played in all 16 games as a rookie in 1998, though sparingly at wide receiver. A two-time All-America in track and a 1996 U.S. Olympic trials competitor, Whitted caught two passes for 61 yards and ran three times for 13 yards on end-arounds and reverses. As a kick returner, Barlow led the AFC in punt returns and ranked seventh in kickoff returns. Tight Ends (5): Kyle Brady, a free-agent acquisition from the Jets, is the new starter. He set career highs with 30 receptions for 315 yards and five TDs in 1998, and he is also an excellent blocker. Damon Jones is back for his third season and will back up Brady. Jones scored four TDs on eight receptions in 1998. He is also a top-notch blocker. Mark Thomas and veteran Rich Griffith are competing for the No. 3 role. Offensive Line (15): One of the league's best offensive lines is anchored by Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy at the tackle positions. Boselli is a consensus All-Pro choice and three-time Pro Bowler, while Searcy has been a Pro Bowl alternate the last three years. Ben Coleman holds down the job at left guard. A six-year veteran, Coleman is the only Jaguar to start every game the last three seasons. He has been slowed in training camp with a knee injury. There are battles at both center and right guard. Quentin Neujahr started all 16 regular-season games at center last season, but he suffered a neck injury. John Wade started both playoff games as a rookie and performed well enough that he is now listed first on the depth chart. At right guard, incumbent Rich Tylski, who has started 31 games the last three seasons, is battling Zach Wiegert, the former Ram and Outland Trophy winner from Nebraska. Wiegert has 45 starts over the last four years. Defensive Line (15): There could be new starters at all four positions, with the lineup expected to be left end Renaldo Wynn, left tackle Seth Payne, right tackle Gary Walker and right end Joel Smeenge. Wynn moves to end from tackle. He has started 23 games in two seasons at all four line positions (he missed last year's postseason with a groin injury and has been limited in training camp). Payne was sidelined three times by a recurring shoulder injury in 1998, finally being placed on injured reserve 11 weeks into the season. A small-college lineman (Cornell) who made the transition to the NFL, Payne has six starts in two seasons. Gary Walker came over from the Titans, where he started 56 games over four seasons, making 16 sacks from the interior of the line. The strongest Jaguar in the weightroom (505 pounds in the benchpress), Walker has missed just two games in four years. Smeenge moves to right end from left end, although Tony Brackens is expected to see lots of action, too. Smeenge started 14 of 16 games played in '98 and is the team's all-time leading sacker with 23 in four seasons. Brackens heads into his fourth season healthy for the first time in nearly two years. He slipped to 3.5 sacks last year while battling an ankle injury and hip pointer. One of the league's most promising pass rushers, Brackens compiled 14 sacks in 1996 and '97, and he leads all Jaguars with 12 forced fumbles and seven fumbles recovered in three seasons. Additional depth is provided by second-round draft choice DT Larry Smith, who has been very impressive in camp, and veteran DE Eric Curry, who started both playoff games last year. Linebackers (12): Kevin Hardy, who set a team record with 186 tackles in 1998, starts at weakside linebacker. Hardy, who hopes to flourish in Dom Capers' defense, started all 16 games last season. In three years, he has 9.5 sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles. Bryce Paup started all 16 games at strongside linebacker last year, but he suffered a torn pectoral muscle while weightlifting in mid-July and was to be out six to eight weeks. Paup had 6.5 sacks last year. The Jaguars signed veteran linebacker Lonnie Marts to replace him. Marts started 89 games in nine seasons with Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Middle linebacker is up for grabs between Bryan Schwartz and Tom McManus. Schwartz, who started 12 games last season, says he is now fully recovered from a 1996 knee injury. He is the team's all-time tackle leader. McManus has 17 starts in four seasons, including four last year. He played in all 16 games after returning from a 1997 knee injury that sidelined him the entire season. Brant Boyer, the backup on the weakside, is the ace of the special teams. Defensive Backs (14): The safeties are set but cornerback is up for grabs. Carnell Lake signed from the Steelers and moves back to free safety for his 11th NFL season. An impact player and the new leader of the secondary, Lake has played in four Pro Bowls. Donovin Darius, who was named to several All-Rookie teams in 1998, switches to strong safety (the Jaguars played left and right safety in '98). In his first season, Darius started 14 games and led the secondary with 105 tackles. At cornerback, the competitors are 1998 starters Dave Thomas and Aaron Beasley, first-round draft choice Fernando Bryant and 1998 second-rounder Cordell Taylor. Thomas, the league's biggest cornerback, has 28 starts the last two seasons. He forced four fumbles in 1998. Beasley started 15 games in '98 and made three interceptions and 86 tackles, tops among the cornerbacks. Bryant, who signed a contract on August 9, was selected with the 26th pick in the April draft. A cover corner, Bryant started the last 40 games of his career at Alabama, making 179 tackles and eight interceptions. Taylor played little as a rookie because of a turf toe that was operated on after the season. He played in 11 games, mostly on special teams. Deon Figures is one of the main nickel and dime backs, and he is also working in training camp at safety. The team's single-season interception leader (5 in 1997), Figures is a former first-round draft choice who has played in 93 games with 40 starts. Rookie CBs Jason Craft and Dee Moronkola have impressed so far in camp. Mike Logan and Blaine McElmurry are the backups at safety. Kickers (3): Mike Hollis enters his fifth season as the NFL's all-time leader in field goal accuracy for both the regular season (102 of 125, 81.6%) and postseason (14 of 15, 93.3%). Hollis has scored 446 points in four seasons. In four seasons with the Jaguars, punter Bryan Barker has finished first, 10th, third and third in the NFL in net punting. A Pro Bowler in 1997, Barker set a career high with a 45.0-yard gross average in '98. Barker and Hollis are two of the three remaining Jaguars to have played in all 70 games in franchise history (joining Jimmy Smith).
FINAL 1998 AFC CENTRAL STANDINGS: The Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 1998 regular season with an 11-5 record and won the AFC Central Division championship. They also became the first expansion team to qualify for the playoffs three times in their first four seasons. Here are the final 1998 regular-season AFC Central Division standings:
TEAM W L T PCT. PTS OPP. VS. DIVISION VS. AFC HOME AWAY Jacksonville 11 5 0 .688 392 338 6-2 8-4 7-1 4-4 Tennessee 8 8 0 .500 330 320 7-1 7-5 3-5 5-3 Pittsburgh 7 9 0 .438 263 303 3-5 5-7 5-3 2-6 Baltimore 6 10 0 .375 269 335 2-6 5-7 4-4 2-6 Cincinnati 3 13 0 .188 268 452 2-6 2-10 1-7 2-6
A LOOK BACK AT THE 1998 SEASON: The Jaguars concluded the 1998 regular season with a number of highlights: n Won their first AFC Central Division championship, dethroning Pittsburgh after a four-year run n Won 11 games, tying the team high set in 1997 n Became the NFL's first expansion team to qualify for the playoffs three times in its first four seasons n Became one of only six teams to qualify for the playoffs each of the last three seasons (joining Denver, New England, Green Bay, San Francisco and Minnesota) n Won their first-ever playoff game at ALLTEL Stadium when they defeated the New England Patriots on January 3 n Finished six games over .500 for the second time in team history (11-5, .688) n Won seven of eight games at home for the third straight year in the regular season n Won six of eight games within the division n Went 4-4 on the road for the second straight year n Improved the franchise's four-year record in the regular season to 35-29 n Improved their mark to 9-6 in December over four seasons n Scored 392 points, just two points off the team record set in 1997 n Scored a team-record 47 touchdowns, breaking the mark of 43 in 1997 n PK Mike Hollis became the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history (102 of 125 for 81.60 percent) n Rookie RB Fred Taylor rushed for a team-record 1,223 yards and scored 17 touchdowns n WR Jimmy Smith had his third consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season, and he had a team-high eight touchdown receptions n The team rushed for a club-record 2,210 yards, breaking the old mark of 1,720 set in 1997 n QB Mark Brunell threw for a team-record 20 touchdowns, breaking his old mark of 19 set in 1996. The team had 24 TD passes, breaking the mark of 20 set in 1997 n Reggie Barlow led the AFC in punt returns, averaging 12.9 yards per return n Averaged 70,184 in attendance, breaking the record of 69,693 in 1995
THE TEAL IS REAL . . . Since November 24, 1996, when the Jaguars began their run to the '96 playoffs, their record is tied for the fourth best in the NFL behind Denver, San Francisco and Green Bay. The Jaguars have won 27 of their last 37 regular-season games. Here's a look at the league's best records since November 24, 1996:
1996 1997 1998 Team Reg. Season Reg. Season Reg. Season Total 1. Denver Broncos 3-2 12-4 14-2 29-8 San Francisco 49ers 4-1 13-3 12-4 29-8 Green Bay Packers 5-0 13-3 11-5 29-8 4. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-0 11-5 11-5 27-10 Minnesota Vikings 3-2 9-7 15-1 27-10
. . . WITH THE FOURTH-BEST RECORD AT HOME . . . The Jaguars have gone 7-1 at ALLTEL Stadium each of the last three seasons during the regular season, which gives them a 21-3 record, which is the fourth-best mark at home over the last three seasons. The Jaguars have lost only two home games since the second week of the 1996 season and have won 22 of their last 25 home games dating back to December 24, 1995, in their inaugural season. Here are the best regular-season home records in the NFL since the start of the 1996 season:
Team 1996 1997 1998 Total 1. Denver Broncos 8-0 8-0 8-0 24-0 2. Green Bay Packers 8-0 8-0 7-1 23-1 3. San Francisco 49ers 6-2 8-0 8-0 22-2 4. Jacksonville Jaguars 7-1 7-1 7-1 21-3 5. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-1 7-1 5-3 19-5 6. Kansas City Chiefs 5-3 8-0 5-3 18-6 New England Patriots 6-2 6-2 6-2 18-6
. . . AND THE FOURTH-BEST RECORD ON THE ROAD . . . The Jaguars are one of only five NFL teams with a .500 or better mark on the road dating back to November 24, 1996. The Jaguars' 10-8 record away from home during that time is the fourth-best mark in the NFL, behind only Minnesota, San Francisco and Green Bay (the Jaguars have also won two postseason road games in that time). Here are the only teams in the league with a .500 or better record on the road since November 24, 1996:
Team W-L-T Pct.
1. Minnesota Vikings 12-6 .667
2. San Francisco 49ers 11-7 .611
Green Bay Packers 11-7 .611 4. Jacksonville Jaguars 10-8 .556 5. Denver Broncos 10-9 .526
THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS: Of the 10 expansion teams in NFL history, the Jaguars have the most victories through four seasons. The Jaguars have 35 victories in four full seasons, compared to 30 for Carolina and 25 for Seattle. Here's how NFL expansion teams fared in their first four seasons:
Team 1ST SEASON 2ND SEASON 3RD SEASON 4TH SEASON 4-YEAR TOTAL Dallas 1960 0-11-1 1961 4-9-1 1962 5-8-1 1963 4-10 13-38-3 Minnesota 1961 3-11 1962 2-12-1 1963 5-8-1 1964 8-5-1 18-36-3 Atlanta 1966 3-11 1967 1-12-1 1968 2-12 1969 6-8 12-43-1 Miami 1966 3-11 1967 4-10 1968 5-8-1 1969 3-10-1 15-39-2 New Orleans 1967 3-11 1968 4-9-1 1969 5-9 1970 2-11-1 14-40-2 Cincinnati 1968 3-11 1969 4-9-1 1970 8-7 1971 4-10 19-37-1 Seattle 1976 2-12 1977 5-9 1978 9-7 1979 9-6 25-34 Tampa Bay 1976 0-14 1977 2-12 1978 5-11 1979 10-6 17-43 Jacksonville 1995 4-12 1996 9-7 1997 11-5 1998 11-5 35-29 Carolina 1995 7-9 1996 12-4 1997 7-9 1998 4-12 30-34
The only expansion teams to make the playoffs in their first four seasons are Jacksonville (1996, '97 and '98), Carolina (1996), Cincinnati (1970) and Tampa Bay (1979)