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Job at stake for Scobee


Josh Scobee is two days away from the biggest day of his young life.

"It's nothing I didn't expect. Letting Jeff (Chandler) go, I knew they were putting some emphasis on wanting me to perform. That's what I'm going to do. I have to step it up this weekend," Scobee said of Friday night's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.

Scobee's mother will be in the stands at Alltel Stadium; her first look at her son in the world of professional football. No doubt, Scobee will think of his father, who passed away 10 years ago.

"I'm dealing with it like I would another game. I know there's added heat," Scobee said.

Added heat? It doesn't get any hotter for a rookie kicker.

After two failed performances that left Scobee one-for-four in field goal attempts and a little short on his kickoffs, the fifth-round pick from Louisiana Tech will have a chance to reverse the trend. This is his big shot; maybe his last shot with the Jaguars.

"Our approach is to let Scobee kick this week, and we'll continue to monitor those other players," head coach Jack Del Rio said.

The placekicking job is something the Jaguars must fix. They have lost too many games over the previous two seasons because they didn't have a guy who could boot the ball between the uprights at crunch time.

Scobee is attempting to become the third consecutive rookie kicker with whom the Jaguars will have begun the regular season. That alone makes him a long shot. The first two preseason games' results have only worsened his chances. But he's still here and with a chance to resurrect his chances this Friday.

Incumbent kicker Seth Marler was lost for the season due to a severe quad muscle injury, and the Jaguars cut Chandler at the start of this week, which sent a strong message to Scobee: Get it done, kid, or you're next.

"It's all out of my hands after the game, but it's in my hands during the game," Scobee said.

The Jaguars, as Del Rio admitted, are looking over the crop of kickers who might become available in final cuts, or might be made available in a trade. Matt Bryan and Billy Cundiff are locked in a battle in Dallas. Morten Andersen and Lawrence Tynes are toeing the turf in Kansas City. John Hall and Ola Kimrin are the names in Washington.

They are the hot names in the "kickers who might be available" category. Two or three of those guys are Scobee's true competition. Scobee knows that if he doesn't kick lights-out this Friday, the Jaguars' kicker this season is currently on someone else's roster.

There's also the possibility Scobee has already lost too much of Del Rio's confidence to be able to regain that faith in what's left of this preseason.

Who knows? It's not the kid's job to analyze all of that; just do the best he can and let the chips fall as they may.

"I've gotten a lot of up-close attention from coach (Pete) Rodriguez. I've been hitting the ball really well this week and I'm very confident going into this game," Scobee said. "I think if I make all of my kicks and hit my kickoffs, I definitely think I have a chance. That's what I plan on doing.

"He wants guys who are dependable," Scobee said of Del Rio, "and that's what I want to be, dependable and reliable."

Though it will only be another seemingly unimportant preseason game, it'll be anything but meaningless for Scobee. It'll be the most important night of his life and the Alltel air will be thick with the drama of a young man chasing a dream.

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