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Keeping it together


Maurice Williams' future is firm, and so it would seem is the Jaguars offensive line's.

Williams met with reporters today to discuss the five-year contract extension he signed recently. It's a contract that would likely keep him the Jaguars' starting right tackle for the next six seasons.

"We think it's a great thing for Mo and a great thing for us," Jaguars salary cap boss Paul Vance said. "For the next six seasons we expect to have Mo playing at tackle. With (Brad) Meester signed and the two young guys (Mike Pearson and Vince Manuwai) signed, it gives us some long-term continuity" on the offensive line, Vance added.

Williams, the Jaguars' second-round pick out of Michigan in 2001, agreed to a deal that includes $8 million in guaranteed money, instead of playing out the final year of his rookie contract and testing the free-agent waters next winter. It's possible Williams could've pulled down a richer contract, but staying in Jacksonville was more important.

"It's a chance for me to be here and be part of something big," he said. "I started comparing the numbers to what I could get in free agency. There was always the possibility I could get a lot more somewhere else, but I wanted to stay here in Jacksonville."

"I weighed a lot of things," said Williams, who included his church, his wife's job as a teacher and the Jacksonville airport in his decision. "We have a small airport and I can go pick up my family and get out quickly," Williams said with a wide grin.

Obviously, Williams likes to keep his life simple, and the Jaguars have taken that same approach to their offensive line. Why tinker with a good thing?

Last year, the starting lineup of Williams and Pearson at the tackles, Manuwai and Chris Naeole at the guards and Meester at center established a Jaguars record for fewest sacks allowed in a season, 28, while coming within 30 yards of setting an all-time rushing record. Naeole is the only member of that line who has fewer than two years remaining on his contract, and the Jaguars have initiated negotiations to extend Naeole's contract.

"The longer we stay together, the better we're going to get," Williams said of the Jaguars offensive line.

"I'm ready to get rolling," he added of training camp, which begins this Saturday morning with practices at 10:30 a.m. and seven p.m. "A lot of people are predicting a lot of things for us. You hear what they say but you don't hear. We've got a very competitive team. Hopefully, we'll win the division and go on from there," Williams said.

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