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Kickers on the hot seat


Coach Jack Del Rio made it clear that he needs to address the desperate state of his team's kicking game, which missed three more field goal attempts last night and now stands one-for-six in the preseason.

"It's obvious we're struggling there. The bottom line is we need to get better and we will, and we'll explore all opportunities to find a guy who can put it through the uprights," Del Rio told reporters following the Jaguars' 14-6 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Bucs on Friday night.

Jeff Chandler missed on tries from 49 and 42 yards, and fifth-round draft choice Josh Scobee failed from 45 yards, as the Jaguars left nine points on the field in the first half. Scobee was one-for-three in the preseason-opener last week in Miami.

Almost everything else about the Jaguars' win over the Bucs was encouraging. The offense came to life, while the defense was even more dominant than it has been in training camp practices.

"We moved the ball well," said Del Rio, who praised quarterbacks Byron Leftwich, David Garrard and Quinn Gray. "I thought all three were very sharp tonight."

Statistically, Leftwich would seem to have turned in a dreadful performance, but the stats don't reflect dropped passes by wide receiver Jimmy Smith and tight end Kyle Brady.

"I'm pleased with the way he's progressing," Del Rio said of Leftwich, who played through the first quarter.

Gray would seem to have staked his claim to the Jaguars' number three quarterback job. He scrambled to his left and lobbed a 48-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Matt Hatchette early in the third quarter.

Doug Johnson played ineffectively in the fourth quarter.

The Jaguars defense was the star of the first half. It held the Bucs to no first downs and 21 total net yards.

It wasn't, however, until David Garrard and the Jaguars' second offense put together a 14-play, 72-yard drive against the Bucs' second defense that the new Alltel Stadium scoreboards were able to post their first score, 7-0, in favor of the Jaguars.

Garrard ran for much of the yardage in the Jaguars' touchdown drive. A 19-yard pass from Garrard to rookie wide receiver Ernest Wilford carried to the Bucs' five-yard line and led to rookie running back Rich Alexis' one-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal with 1:55 to play in the first half.

The big plays of the first half, however, were the dropped passes by Smith and Brady. Smith bobbled an apparent 33-yard touchdown pass from Leftwich late in the first quarter, then Kyle Brady failed to control a perfect 21-yard strike over the middle at the Bucs' four-yard line.

Smith had beaten cornerback Brian Kelly deep. Del Rio challenged the call unsuccessfully.

Leftwich's pass to Brady was initially ruled complete, but Bucs coach Jon Gruden's challenge was upheld and the call was overturned.

The Jaguars failed in another scoring try in the first quarter. A Leftwich pass for Troy Edwards in the end zone was deflected and intercepted.

Defensively, Paul Spicer's hard rush on quarterback Brad Johnson resulted in a tipped pass that was intercepted by defensive tackle John Henderson, and Mike Peterson recovered an unforced fumble by quarterback Brian Griese.

Leftwich's best sequence of action resulted in a 26-yard pass completion to first-round pick Reggie Williams, followed by three consecutive completions on the Jaguars' next possession.

Garrard replaced Leftwich at the start of the second quarter.

Fullback Marc Edwards left the game with a knee sprain, which further depletes a weakened running back corps. LaBrandon Toefield, Joe Smith and David Allen are out of action with ankle sprains, and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala was deactivated last night due to a foot sprain.

Leftwich completed four of 11 passes for 55 yards, one interception and a 15.3 passer rating. Garrard was eight of 12 for 71 yards and an 82.3 passer rating. He ran three times for 23 yards. Gray was four of seven for 76 yards, one touchdown and a 134.5 passer rating.

Second-round draft choice Greg Jones led the Jaguars in rushing with 62 yards on 18 attempts, a 3.4 yards-per-carry average.

Tampa finished the game with seven first downs, 152 total net yards and a mere 20:41 of possession time. The Bucs' only scores were the result of harmless 43 and 44-yard field goals by Martin Gramatica in the second half.

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