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The Jacksonville Jaguars - including No. 1 draft choice R. Jay Soward - opened their 2000 minicamp with 76 players in attendance for the two practice sessions today.

Regarding his first impressions of Soward, Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin said, "He's very quick, very fast. He's trying to learn, as all of the rookies are. They are burdened a little by the effort to learn. But R. Jay is explosive; he just needs to learn how to play with more balance and play over his feet a little more."

Twenty-one of the 76 players are new to the Jaguars, including the 11 players selected in last weekend's draft. "I was really impressed by a lot of these kids," Coughlin added. "We took them into the weightroom this morning and did their flexibility and bench work, and they did very well. They are probably the most flexible group we have had. So, from an athletic standpoint, we look forward to being able to build upon the athleticism that they bring."

Four players are not participating in the minicamp because they are playing in the NFL Europe League - safeties Blaine McElmurry and Kevin Peoples, linebacker Brandon Southward and cornerback Zebbie Lethridge. They will re-join the team for the July training camp. In addition, defensive end Tony Brackens, who is designated as the team's franchise player but has not signed a contract, did not report, although he was not required to.

Regarding Brackens missing the minicamp, Coughlin said, "It is always disappointing. We count on him. He is an outstanding football player who should be here. But we just have to keep going. Have I told him (he needs to be here) point-blank? I told him a few weeks ago at the league meetings that he should be here, that there is a lot of valuable time going by, that this thing can be accomplished without him staying away. He does not feel that way. One thing you can be sure of is that we will keep right on going."

The five undrafted rookies who had reached verbal contract agreements last Sunday after the draft reported on Wednesday and signed their contracts.

The three-day minicamp will continue through Saturday, with two practices on Friday and the final session on Saturday morning at the Ferrell Fields adjacent to ALLTEL Stadium.


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