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Moving on


Nick Harris doesn't know too much about why he's in Jacksonville.

Not that he isn't interested. It's just that he has been doing other things on Sunday aside from watching the NFL in recent weeks, so he didn't have a real working knowledge of the Jaguars' punting situation thus far this season.

But Harris on Wednesday said it doesn't much matter why he's here. The fact remains:

He is here, and he's ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

"I have four kids at home, and on Sundays at 1 o'clock, I was out on the field practicing," Harris said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-4) prepared to play the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m.

 "I haven't watched a game. I just spent my Sunday afternoons kicking balls at the high school field."

Harris, an 11-year veteran, spent the past seven seasons with the Detroit Lions before being released shortly before the start of the regular season. He has punted 804 times for a 42.5-yard average and 35.3 net in 10 NFL seasons.

He was signed Tuesday to replace veteran Matt Turk, who was released Tuesday after struggling in five games with the team.

Since his release, the 33-year-old Harris has worked out with the Buccaneers, the Patriots and Vikings.

 "It can be that way for a free agent," Harris said. "Life's not fair. Stuff happens, so I try not to complain. I ended up here, which is ideal."

Harris said he stayed in shape by approaching his workouts as if he were still with a team, working Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday, then taking Saturday off before punting Sundays. Because of that schedule, he wasn't aware of Turk's struggles with the Jaguars this season.

Those struggles included a 32.8-yard net, and not only a fumbled punt in the second half of a loss at Carolina, but a 22-yard punt in the fourth quarter during a loss to the Bengals this past Sunday. The 22-yarder led to a 23-yard game-winning touchdown drive by the Bengals.

Turk, who after one punt Sunday waved his arms to the crowd to apparently encourage the crowd to continue booing, was the subject of enough criticism that Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said on Wednesday, "I think it's probably been the most-talked about punter in the history of the league."

"We made a move we felt like we needed to make," Del Rio said. "Initially, we went with a veteran like Matt, because we wanted to be able to handle the very situations we were faced with. We thought having a veteran would allow us to do that. It just didn't work out that way.

"We've moved on and we're happy to have Nick here. We expect him to go in and do his job and do it well and give us a chance to be good at that portion of things."

Harris said the Jaguars first contacted him Sunday evening.

"They just said, 'We want to bring you in for a workout,''' Harris said. "You never know. You just do your best with however many kids you get in the tryout. You try to show off and rely on what you've done in the past."

Harris said much of his tryout involved directional punting. The Jaguars prefer directional punting, which was something Turk had not done extensively in recent years before joining the Jaguars.

Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:

*Cornerback Derek Cox (groin) missed practice, as did RB Montell Owens, linebacker Daryl Smith (head) and G/C Jason Spitz (quadriceps). Cox, Spitz and Smith have missed the last two games, while Smith has started all five games this season. Smith sustained a concussion against the Bengals Sunday.

*Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee), cornerback Drew Coleman (head), safety Courtney Greene (neck), wide receiver Jason Hill (thigh), tight end Zach Miller (shoulder), offensive tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder), wide receiver Kassim Osgood (hamstring), linebacker Clint Session (elbow), offensive tackle Guy Whimper (hip) and defensive end Aaron Kampman (knee) were limited Wednesday. Del Rio called Monroe extremely limited.

*Kampman, as he did a week ago, worked with the starters during the portion of practice open to the media. Kampman, who missed the final eight games last season and the first five this season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, said he "definitely" has progressed. Del Rio said early in the week he expects Kampman could play against Pittsburgh.  "I'm feeling good with everything," Kampman said. "I'm excited if I get the opportunity to get back out there."

*Fullback Greg Jones, Jones-Drew and cornerback Rashean Mathis were limited for non-injury reasons.

*Del Rio said while the Jaguars' defense has played well, one area that could be improved is turnovers created. The Jaguars' defense is ranked eighth in the NFL after ranking 28th last year. They have six interceptions and no fumble recoveries. "We talk about being aggressive, and taking shots on goal, taking the ball off people," Del Rio said. "That's going to come. We've worked hard at it. We continue to stress it. We're going to get that." Del Rio also said the team's sacks numbers will improve. "We've been around the quarterback enough to have a lot more," he said. "We just have to finish a lot more. Those things are going to come."

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