John Henderson's flexibility was the major issue today when the Jaguars began three weeks of pre-camp drills at their Alltel Stadium practice facility. Henderson, the team's first-round draft choice, was slowed by tightness in his hamstring and hip flexor, though the defensive tackle said he's making progress in his stretching and flexibility program.
"It's all about stretching and getting flexible for me. I'm not real flexible. That's what I worked on for four years (at Tennessee); constantly stretching every day," Henderson told reporters following today's no-pads practice.
Pre-draft rumors were that Henderson had a bad back, but he says those reports are incorrect. After several medical tests, it was explained to him his muscles are abnormally tight, the result of a teenage growth spurt.
"He got 50 percent of the work today. He's worked on his hip flexor. He's coming along," coach Tom Coughlin said.
Henderson is expected to team with 2001 first-round draft choice Marcus Stroud and become the best young defensive tackle combination in the league. Today, Stroud worked with veteran Larry Smith in the first-team defense, but Henderson is expected to close the gap quickly.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars practiced without running back Fred Taylor, who was excused so he might attend to a legal matter. "Fred's at a Tank Black hearing; to discuss recovering some of the money (Taylor) lost," Coughlin said of his running back's case against his former agent.
Taylor was expected to be on the field for the Jaguars' next pre-camp drill. Stacey Mack replaced Taylor in the first-team offense.
Rookie quarterback David Garrard was under the "microscope." Garrard, the Jaguars' fourth-round draft choice, is attempting to close the learning gap and prove he's capable of being Mark Brunell's backup this season. Meanwhile, rumors swirl the Jaguars will attempt to sign a veteran quarterback, such as Tony Banks or Charlie Batch.
"Banks was in here a couple of weeks ago and had to have surgery on a knuckle (on his passing hand), so he's not going to be ready to go for awhile," Coughlin said.
Garrard was erratic with his throws today, which is understandable for a rookie who has already been elevated to number two on the depth chart.
"The idea of who's going where may have bothered him. He has to continue to work on that," Coughlin said.
"I was going to the right places, I just wasn't putting the ball where it should've been," Garrard said.
Meanwhile, Coughlin revealed offensive tackle Chris Ziemann will undergo anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery next week, which will end Ziemann's season before it began. Ziemann was signed in the offseason.
Defensive end Tony Brackens did not participate in today's practice. Brackens experienced knee swelling. His replacement at right end, Paul Spicer, has added several pounds this offseason and is at an impressive 295 pounds.
Coughlin reported second-year running back Elvis Joseph has also benefited from the offseason conditioning program. "He's looked faster to me. He looks to me like a guy who's done a good job in the offseason conditioning," Coughlin said.
Aside from Taylor, rookie cornerback Steve Smith is the only other player not in attendance today. Smith's class at Oregon won't graduate until this weekend. An agreement between the NFL and the NCAA prohibits players from participating in their teams' pre-camps until their college classes graduate.
Pre-camp will end on June 14. Players will report on July 25 for the start of training camp.