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Jags learn from Carolina


In the spring of the year, when Jack Del Rio presented tape after tape of his 2002 Carolina Panthers defense to his 2003 Jaguars, cornerback Fernando Bryant watched in awe of the NFL's second-ranked defense.

"Their front seven was unbelievable," Bryant said of Julius Peppers and company.

Back then, it was about learning Del Rio's attack-style gap defense. It was what Bryant and every Jaguars veteran defender wanted, after years of having played a more conservative approach. This weekend, the Jaguars will match their new style of defense against the genuine article.

"It's working," Bryant said of the Jaguars' attempt at Del Rio's defensive system. "Everybody has a responsibility. You're accountable for what you do."

That's the system in a nutshell. The defensive line gets in the gaps and seeks penetration into the offensive backfield, trusting they will be covered from behind by the linebackers. It's a defensive philosophy bent on making the big play; the big tackle for a loss.

"They have their gaps. They're attacking. They want to make a new line of scrimmage," Bryant said of the Jaguars defensive linemen, who will be trying to get to running back Stephen Davis before he gets to them.

But there's also a risk. "The big play; that's the thing. There's a risk of the big play," Bryant said, referring to the potential for an uncovered gap that might send Davis into the secondary. And at 230 pounds, Davis might overmatch the 175-pound Bryant. It would certainly make for a long day.

"We gotta stop the run," Bryant said. "This is a good test for us in this first game; to go against a team that's going to pound the ball with Stephen Davis."

What the Jaguars do against Davis this Sunday will provide a credible preview of what success Del Rio may have at establishing his defensive system with the Jaguars. It all begins up front, at stopping the run, which the Panthers were able to do last season without involving their defensive backs. Can the Jaguars do the same?

"They play a lot of 'cover two,'" quarterback Mark Brunell said of the Panthers' conservative pass-coverage philosophy. "They feel like they can stop the run with their front seven."

Meanwhile, Del Rio told reporters following practice today that former Steelers running back Chris Fuamatu-Maafala has been signed by the Jaguars. That will result in one deletion from the Jaguars active roster; they have a vacancy on their practice squad. Del Rio did not announce who was being cut from the roster to make room for Fuamatu-Maafala, who comes to the Jaguars with a sore hamstring.

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