Leftwich will attend OTA's

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Byron Leftwich hasn't spoken to the media but he's been in communication with the Jaguars since being reinstated as the team's starting quarterback on Feb. 22.

"Dirk (Koetter) talked to him (on Wednesday). He's getting the information," Jack Del Rio said of communication between Leftwich and the team's new offensive coordinator.

The Jaguars will begin their offseason conditioning program on Monday (March 26) and Del Rio said Leftwich will be a no-show, but that's no problem for the Jaguars head coach.

"He'll be here when we're on the field. He'll be here for football," Del Rio said.

Leftwich has been working out in south Florida for the past month and he'll continue a personal workout regimen through the spring. Offseason conditioning is voluntary, as is the team's OTA (organized team activity) practices, which are tentatively scheduled to begin on May 8. Del Rio said Leftwich will participate in the Jaguars' 14 OTA practices and five mandatory mini-camp practices.

Del Rio will attend next week's owners meetings in Phoenix. When he returns to Jacksonville, it will be with a bounce in his step for the start of a new year. The bitter memory of three losses at the end of last season that kept the Jaguars out of the playoffs will give way to hope for something better in '07.

At last year's owners meetings, Del Rio said the goal was to take the next step and win in the playoffs. In an interview with jaguars.com on Thursday, Del Rio said his goal for this season is "to heal up and win. I believe with the roster we've assembled and the staff we've assembled, we will do that."

Leftwich, Mike Peterson, Reggie Hayward, Greg Jones, Donovin Darius, Pat Thomas, Brent Hawkins and Marcus Stroud all missed significant playing time last season due to injury. Hayward was lost for the year in the first game of the season, Peterson was lost for the year in week five and Leftwich exited after just six games. Jones, of course, was lost in the preseason.

"Some of our blue-chip players," Del Rio said. "How good is it going to be to add them to our squad?"

Tight end George Wrighster emerged as a major pass-catching weapon last season and Del Rio expects Wrighster to be fully recovered from offseason labrum surgery by the start of training camp.

The fifth-year head coach is also excited about changes he's made to his offensive coaching staff. Koetter, the former Arizona State head coach, is the new boss on offense. Former Alabama head coach Mike Shula will coach the quarterbacks and two new faces have been added to coach the wide receivers. All of that is an attempt to improve the Jaguars' passing game, which sagged to 24th in the league.

"We need to have a strong offseason. We're taking a complete look at our passing game as we did with our running game last year, making sure we put our playmakers in position to make plays. We're going through our passing game with a fine-toothed comb, making sure, first and foremost, that the quarterback knows where he needs to go with the ball and he knows where the trouble is," Del Rio said.

"We had this dynamic in Baltimore on defense. You're talking about challenging each other every day," Del Rio added, referring to his offensive coaching staff. "That dynamic is in place with our offensive staff. I think it's a good sign."

Del Rio's attention is also on next month's draft and the final player evaluations that are occurring during the prospects' pro days.

"I think we're positioned in a way that we can add players at various positions. We're not going into this draft trying to fill any holes," he said.

Of the Jaguars' 10 picks in the first two rounds of the four drafts under Del Rio, the team has selected seven offensive players. The Jaguars, of course, have signed two offensive players – Tony Pashos and Dennis Northcutt – in free agency this year.

"I think there's a good chance we'll be looking on the defensive side of the ball," Del Rio said.

What Del Rio most wants to leave behind with the start of spring and the end of what was a long, hard winter is recent reports of Jaguars players in brushes with the law.

"Any time you see one of your players in a negative story, it bothers you," Del Rio said. "We believe very strongly in having quality people with character. We will continue to work hard to educate our players, with the desire that they be good football players and good citizens in the community."

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