The Jacksonville Jaguars - including No. 1 draft choice John Henderson and the eight other players selected in last weekend's draft - opened their 2002 minicamp today with 89 players in attendance for the two practice sessions.
"It's a time of change in the National Football League with eight divisions and four teams per division," said Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin. "It's a time of change in our football team and our franchise. It's to be looked at as a rebirth or an opportunity to do some outstanding things."
Forty-six players are new to the Jaguars, tied for the most newcomers in any year since the 1995 inaugural season. "I tried to give the rookies some reference points as to how they'll be evaluated," Coughlin added. "Some of them are thinking about their old systems when they get out over the ball. For the first day, I liked the enthusiasm. It wasn't very smooth. It takes some getting used to. The veterans have played the game; they know the game. They've been here in the offseason program. Some of the younger guys were a little bit out of control this morning. They have to digest all this information and settle down a little bit and give us a better performance."
Coughlin also commented on several veteran players new to the roster. "I like the way (WRs Patrick Johnson and Bobby Shaw) both handled themselves. I like the way they operated over the ball. I liked Bobby Shaw the way he went in motion. I liked Patrick Johnson coming off the ball, catching a few balls and having some acceleration. I'm looking forward to seeing more of that. Chris Naeole is going to squat in there at the right guard spot as we do some maneuvering in other places. Hopefully, that's the right combination for us."
The only player who did not participate in the two sessions was OT Maurice Williams, who has a strained calf. In addition, three players who are still rehabilitating offseason surgeries were limited: S Donovin Darius (shoulder), LB T.J. Slaughter (shoulder) and DE Tony Brackens (knee).
Six other players are not participating in the minicamp because they are playing in the NFL Europe League: OT/G Derrick Chambers, DB Renard Cox, TE Stevan Fontana, OT Jeff Miller, WR Jimmy Redmond and OT Patrick Venzke. They will re-join the team for the July training camp. Five additional unsigned players participated in the minicamp: LB Jake Houseright, OT Garrick Jones, WR Ellis Spears, S Avery Warner and OT Lorenzo White.
The 11 undrafted rookies who had reached verbal contract agreements last Sunday after the draft reported on Thursday and signed their contracts.
The three-day minicamp will continue through Sunday, with two practices on Saturday and the final session on Sunday morning on the practice fields at ALLTEL Stadium.