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Koch impressive in early practices


The pads were on this morning and the Jaguars conducted their first nine-on-seven drill, in which offensive and defensive linemen are pitted in full-contact confrontations.

"It'll get better," coach Tom Coughlin said, referring to the fact that technique and movement usually suffer when the pads go on for the first time.

"I look hard at the linemen," Coughlin added.

He will look especially hard this summer, since the Jaguars' most critical needs are on the right side of their offensive line. Second-round pick Maurice Williams and second-year man Aaron Koch were at right tackle and right guard with the first unit this morning for the third consecutive day of practice. Williams is the front-runner at tackle, but Koch is attempting to make an impression while veteran Zach Wiegert eases back into action from last season's ACL surgery.

"Aaron Koch has practiced very well. He's gotten a very favorable start," Coughlin said of the player the Jaguars acquired early last season from the Titans' practice squad.

"I had an opportunity to come here in free agency. The opportunity looked better in Tennessee," Koch said of his decision to sign with the Titans following the 2000 draft. "I've always hoped, prayed for an opportunity to start in the NFL."

This would seem to be that chance. Wiegert isn't expected to reclaim the full-time job until he has the medical OK to go all-out, and behind Koch is sixth-round pick Chad Ward, who has much learning ahead of him before he can be considered a serious challenger for the starting job.

"I wanted to play and knew I was good enough to play," Koch said of his decision to leave Tennessee for the Jaguars when they claimed him off the Titans' practice squad in late Sept.

"My game has come a long way, but it has a way to go. I still need a lot of work on my pass-protection. It will come," he added.

Koch, 6-3, 304, from Oregon State, has earned his opportunity due to Wiegert's knee surgery and veteran center/guard John Wade's June foot surgery. The Jaguars are in a desperate state on the right side of their line, and Koch has been a pleasant surprise to date, appearing to be much quicker and more athletic than would be expected from an undrafted player.

"It see it as a make-it year. I couldn't be in a better spot anywhere else in the NFL. In some ways, it can be better to be undrafted; good cap number," Koch said with a smile.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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