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Most important game of his life


It's a meaningless preseason finale. Long before it's over, most players' thoughts will have turned toward the season-opener, but not for players such as D'Juan Woods. For Woods, Thursday's game in Washington is the most important game of his life.

Woods appears to be in a three-way battle for what would be the number six wide receiver spot, provided coach Jack Del Rio keeps six wide receivers. In a normal year, he wouldn't, but this is not a normal year. The Jaguars will go into the regular season with uncertainty about Jerry Porter's hamstring and Matt Jones' legal troubles.

"I guess this is it," Woods said of Thursday's game.

Yeah, it's come down to this.

He was a standout in spring OTAs. Woods continued his strong play into training camp, where he was judged to have led the Jaguars' wide receivers in wins against one-on-one coverage. Through three preseason games, he has four receptions for 53 yards. He needs a big night in Washington, and then he needs to hope.

"What's going through my heart is that ever since I started playing football I've dreamed of playing in the NFL. Finally, I have that opportunity (to make it). It makes it worthwhile, regardless of the outcome. You lean on that to comfort you," Woods said.

His brother, Rashaun, was a first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2004. He's out of football now. "He's at home. He gave it a run in Canada and it didn't work out," Woods said.

D'Juan wasn't drafted. He signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent last year, was cut in the preseason but showed enough to warrant re-signing after last season.

"It's one step better than last year," Woods said when he found out he wasn't one of the five cuts the Jaguars made on Tuesday. John Broussard and Clyde Edwards were cut, leaving Woods, Troy Williamson and Ryan Hoag to battle for the possible sixth receiver spot.

"I like those guys. We understand that it's just business. If it's me, great. If it's not me, it's back to the drawing board," Woods said.

He draws his inspiration from little things, such as a coach's praise.

" 'This is textbook. Look here at Woods,' " he said of something he heard in a tape-review session this summer. "You get a warm feeling."

The warmest feeling would come on Aug. 30, if he finds out he's made the Jaguars' final roster. What he does in Washington on Thursday will probably determine his fate.

"You can't control how many balls are thrown your way. What you can control is if you're open," he said. "This is an amazing opportunity. It's going to test me because I am on every special team. It's going to take a toll on me."

What if he falls short of his dream?

"I'll play anywhere. It's in my blood. It's in my genes. The NFL is where I want to be. I do understand that things don't always work out the way you want," Woods said.

Sometimes they do.

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