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Mandatory means mandatory


Gene Smith isn't certain of Maurice Jones-Drew's plans for the week.

What the Jaguars' general manager said he does know is this week's mini-camp is mandatory for players under contract, and that the three-time Pro Bowl running back has two years remaining on his current deal.

"I would expect him to be here this week, but that's ultimately his decision," Smith said Monday in an extended interview with reporters at EverBank Field.

"I would expect all the players to be here. It's mandatory."

Smith, who on Monday discussed a variety of team-related topics – including the offseason development of quarterback Blaine Gabbert and last Thursday's release of veteran defensive end Aaron Kampman – also said the team has no plans to renegotiate Jones-Drew's deal.

Jones-Drew, a Pro Bowl selection the past three seasons and the NFL's leading rusher last season, has not attended the team's voluntary offseason program. That often has been the case throughout his six-year NFL career, but although Jones-Drew has said nothing publicly about being unhappy with his current contract, Smith and Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey each have said in recent weeks it's their understanding that Jones-Drew wants to renegotiate.

Smith said he has talked with Jones-Drew's agent, but that it is not the team's intention to do a new deal.

"Maurice has expressed that he would like to renegotiate," Smith said. "We have expressed that we feel he has a contract with two years left. Our expectation with any player under contract is to fulfill their obligation. He has two years remaining.

"We expect him to fulfill those obligations."

Smith in discussing Gabbert said his biggest objective for the 2012 season is for the Jaguars to contend for the postseason. "I'm looking for us to win," he said. "I'm looking for us to be a contender in December."

One key to doing that, of course, is for Gabbert to develop, and Smith said the second-year quarterback – the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft – has responded well to the coaching of Mularkey, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson this offseason.

"I would expect big progress from him in Year 1 to Year 2," Smith said.

Smith, who said the development of the team's wide receivers during the off-season has been "encouraging," said while Gabbert likely will have some "trying times" next season, he expects having played 14 games as a rookie to help and the he expects the quarterback to take steps.

"He's done very well," Smith said of Gabbert's offseason.

Smith also on Monday addressed last week's release of Kampman, who signed as a free agent in the 2010 offseason but played just 11 of 32 games in two seasons with the team.

Kampman had four sacks in the first eight games of 2010, but played just three more with the Jaguars after sustaining a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in practice in November of that season.

"We got into a situation where we decided to go in a different direction," Smith said. "We decided to give him the opportunity to pursue other opportunities."

Kampman had been limited in the offseason, but Smith said he had recovered from the 2010 ACL tear and was healthy. The decision to release him, Smith said, was based on the Jaguars' situation at end changing. The team selected defensive end Andre Branch from Clemson in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and Smith said Austen Lane and George Selvie also have been strong this offseason.

Smith said releasing Kampman was tough because of the veteran's professionalism and the effort he put into returning, but said "over the course of time, things change."

"I felt like we were in a position where we have to give other players an opportunity," he said. "We're at a different place in terms of talent (than two years ago). I feel good about the players we have, the direction we're going.

"It was tough personally, but you have to act in the best interest of the team. What was best was for us to give the other guys a chance to play who are in the beginning of their careers."

Also on Monday:

*Smith said the goal remains to work a long-term deal with kicker Josh Scobee, and that he expects Scobee to be kicking for the Jaguars next season and in the future. The Jaguars designated Scobee the franchise player in February, and the deadline for him to sign the tender is July 16. Smith said the sides haven't had much dialogue lately, but added, "We'd like to get something done long-term. That's still our goal."

*Smith said the Jaguars likely will carry three quarterbacks next season in some capacity, though he has yet to decide whether it will be three quarterbacks on the active roster or two on the active roster with one on the practice squad. Veteran Jordan Palmer is currently the third quarterback on the roster behind Gabbert and backup Chad Henne.

*Smith said the Jaguars have had no discussions with linebacker Daryl Smith or fullback Greg Jones about extending their contracts. Each is entering the final seasons of his contract. "They are taking control of what they have control over," Smith said. "We like both players." Smith said he doesn't believe either player is near the end of his career.

*Smith said he expects to see a return to form for tight end Marcedes Lewis. He caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns while making the Pro Bowl in 2010 before catching 39 passes for 460 yards and no touchdowns last season. "I do expect we'll see the Marcedes of '10 in '12," Smith said.

*Smith said he was pleased with the play during the offseason of wide receiver Laurent Robinson, defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith, wide receiver Brian Robiskie and safeties Dwight Lowery and Dawan Landry. He also said he right tackle Eben Britton has looked increasingly good the last two weeks after missing much of last season with a back injury.

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