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Jags not backing down


Sunday is the day for which Eben Britton set his professional football sights.

Britton made his promise on draft day, as he expressed a degree of anger at not having been selected in the first round. "I'm going to make somebody pay. When that first game comes, somebody is going to pay for it," Britton said.

So far, Britton is right on the mark. He played well enough in training camp and in the preseason to cause veteran right tackle Tony Pashos to be cut. Sunday, Britton will be the Jaguars' starting right tackle and he'll be confronted by defensive end Robert Mathis, who led the Colts with 11.5 sacks last season.

"Explosive, violent player," Britton said of Mathis, after watching Mathis on tape this week. "It's going to be a great challenge."

Britton isn't the only Jaguars rookie facing a daunting task. First-round pick Eugene Monroe will be the Jaguars' starting left tackle and standing across from him will be pass-rush star Dwight Freeney, a 10.5-sacks guy last year.

"He's a great player," Monroe said of Freeney. "I'm always anxious. It's the first game and I'm going up against one of the best ends in the game. There's no room for being intimidated."

Quarterback David Garrard's well-being, it would seem, is in the hands of two rookies, but he's OK with that.

"I have all the confidence in the world in those guys. They'll have their rookie moments but they'll get better and better each week," Garrard said.

There were no signs of back-down in any of the Jaguars, or their coach, as the team began full-scale practices on Wednesday for Sunday's game in Indianapolis.

"It's what I set my goals at. I haven't taken back anything I've said," said Britton, who confessed to being a bit anxious. "A little bit, yeah. I'm excited to get this first start under my belt. To get it against a guy like (Mathis) is a great challenge for me," Britton added.

Veteran wide receiver Torry Holt said the Jaguars can use this game to "measure ourselves and see where we are as a football team. We're ready. The urgency is clearly there," Holt said.

Expectations for the Jaguars this season are not high, what with General Manager Gene Smith having effected a roster reconstruction that has resulted in 22 new faces. Neither Holt nor coach Jack Del Rio, however, have used the rebuilding theme to adjust their expectations downward.

"They should expect us to play well and win this ballgame. That's the expectation we have," Holt said.

"Why not?" Del Rio said of having high expectations. "We expect to be good at what we do."

Del Rio made two promises on Wednesday: 1.) His team will be hard-working. 2.) The pass-rush will improve.

"We'll be more disruptive to the quarterback this year. That I can assure you. We're going to commit to it," he said, just as he believes his players have committed to a more dedicated effort in '09.

"What kind of team?" Del Rio said in repeating a question. "A hard-working team; they're very committed. Where that'll take us, we're about to find out."

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