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No surprise; Gibson gone


It hardly came as a surprise to anyone who attended Monday's press conference, and it certainly didn't shock Damon Gibson when he was released by the Jaguars today.

Gibson admitted to concern his fumble of a third-quarter punt in Sunday's 28-25 loss to the Indianapolis Colts would result in his release this week. The Jaguars made it official this afternoon, as the team announced the release of Gibson and the signing of linebacker Bobby Brooks.

"It's a tough pill to swallow. My play, I feel, cost us the game," Gibson told reporters during yesterday's media interview period.

Shortly after that, coach Tom Coughlin was asked if Gibson would remain the Jaguars' punt-returner for Sunday's game in Kansas City. Coughlin's nonanswer -- "It's noon on Monday" -- was all the answer reporters needed.

The Jaguars were leading 17-14 and appeared poised to seize control of the game as Colts punter Hunter Smith stood at his goal line facing a stiff wind. Gibson stood at the Jaguars 45-yard line to receive the punt, and that was his first mistake.

Gibson was told to position himself at the Jaguars 40, 45 yards from the Colts line of scrimmage. Jaguars special teams coordinator John Bonamego had noticed in pregame drills that Smith's punts into the wind were carrying about 42 yards.

Smith's boot was a low, line drive that sailed over Gibson's head. The ball also took a hard bounce toward the Jaguars goal line, but Gibson retreated quickly and the ball lie at his feet with time for him to recover. Then he made his second critical error.

Gibson tried to pick up the ball while looking at on-rushing Colts coverage man Clifton Crosby. Gibson bobbled the ball and Crosby recovered as Crosby crashed into Gibson.

"Trying to do too many things at one time," Gibson told reporters Monday. It was the second time in as many days Gibson detailed accounts of his mistake to the media.

Smith's punt traveled 53 yards in the air; 65 yards total. Coughlin said Crosby was not jammed properly by the Jaguars double-teamers, Ike Charlton and Jason Craft. Crosby ran or was blocked out of bounds, then re-entered the playing field.

"If you're not going to field it, get away from it," Coughlin said of Gibson's ill-fated decision.

Gibson returned 38 punts last season for the Jaguars and averaged 8.8 yards per return with a long return of 24 yards. He also returned 26 kickoffs, averaging 19.7 yards per return with a long return of 35 yards. In 1998, Gibson returned 27 punts for the Bengals for an 8.1-yard average with a 65-yard touchdown.

Brooks, 6-2, 240, has spent the last three seasons covering kicks and punts for the Raiders. He was signed in 1999 as an undrafted rookie free agent from Fresno State.

Charlton and wide receiver Bobby Shaw are candidates to assume Gibson's punt-returner role.

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