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Morrison says bring it on


Jaguars players returned to the weight room and the team's offseason conditioning program on Monday, following a league-imposed one-week rest. It might be the last week the players have off until the bye week, or beyond.

"I'll say 80 percent, 90 percent of the teams in the NFL are done with their offseason program. Here, things are different. This is the way the operation is going and I'm all for it. If it's going to make us a better football team, I'm all for it," middle linebacker Kirk Morrison said following a morning workout on Monday.

The Jaguars will continue their voluntary conditioning program right up to the start of training camp. The intent is for the players to take the physical edge they honed in the offseason into camp and the preseason.

"Everyone is here. We're all working together. It's good," Morrison said of participation.

The Jaguars were a hard-working group this past spring. In fact, the NFL decided the Jaguars were working too hard, which resulted in the league suspending the team's last two OTA practices, scheduled for last Monday and Tuesday. Instead, players were forbidden from using team facilities last week, other than the training room for treatment of injuries.

You might say the big push began with the start of this week and Morrison's intensity is symbolic of the mindset coach Jack Del Rio is demanding of his team this year.

"We need to leave training camp being able to trust each other. We're gonna leave training camp with a sense of confidence. You develop a sense of we can do this, that this 53-man roster is going to get the job done week in and week out," Morrison said, looking ahead to the July 30 start date.

The Jaguars will have to stand strong against their doubters. The team is coming off a late-season swoon in 2009 in a division that boasts defending AFC champion Indianapolis, a Houston team many are picking for the playoffs this year, and a Tennessee team that boasts of arguably the best running back in the game.

Where do the Jaguars fit in the AFC South? Most preseason forecasts have the Jaguars at the back of the pack. That's fine, Morrison said, drawing comparison to the Saints' doubters last year, as the Saints were coming off a last-place finish in 2008 in a division in which Atlanta and Carolina appeared to be the teams on the rise.

"People are always going to be down on you until you prove them wrong. That's the way the NFL is. Look at the New Orleans Saints. They were last in their division in 2008. New Orleans leap-frogged all those guys. Our focus is winning the division and then you go from there," said Morrison, a draft-day acquisition from the Oakland Raiders.

The Jaguars will have a chance in the first month of the season to make a statement. Against a challenging first-month schedule, they'll either confirm their doubters' claims, or change their tune.

"It's a great thing. We'll get battle-tested early," Morrison said of a schedule that'll see the Jaguars open at home against Denver, travel to San Diego, and then host Philadelphia and Indianapolis. The Chargers, Eagles and Colts were playoff teams last season. The Broncos, of course, will come to town with Tim Tebow in tow.

"Those are the games that set you up for the end of the season. The first quarter is going to tell what kind of season we're going to have and what kind of team we're going to have," Morrison said.

"I love division games. I know what they mean. They mean the most. That's who you play twice a year. Playing Peyton Manning and the Colts twice a year is going to be tough. Tennessee had a great turnaround last season that almost got them to the playoffs. Houston is going to be tough, too," Morrison added.

Too tough got the Jaguars a week's rest last week. Now it's back to the grind.

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