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Offensive line paving way


The Jaguars offense seems to gain more momentum with each passing game, and coach Jack Del Rio is eager to give credit to his team's offensive line.

"I like the fact we're coming off the ball and creating a surge. It starts in the trenches," Del Rio said.

Here are some of the current bragging points for the Jaguars offense. The Jaguars have:

• Scored 24 or more points in eight straight games for the first time in team history. The Jaguars enter Sunday's game with four-plus touchdowns in back-to-back games. The team has never scored four-plus touchdowns in three consecutive games.

• Not allowed a sack in two consecutive games for the first time in team history.

• The second-most fourth down attempts in the league since 1996 with 32. The Patriots had 34 attempts in '96.

• Gained 400-plus yards in four consecutive games for the first time in team history, and if the Jaguars gain 400 yards of offense this Sunday, it'll be the seventh game in 2007 with 400-plus yards, the most in team history.

• Nine plays of 50-plus yards, the second-most in team history (11, 1998). The Jaguars have seven touchdowns of 50-plus yards, tied for the most in team history (seven, 1998).

• Rushed for 100-plus yards in 12 of 14 games and 150-plus yards in seven of 14 games this season. The 12 games with 100-plus yards this season is the second-most under head coach Jack Del Rio (2006, 14 games).

• Scored at least three touchdowns in eight consecutive games.

Credit for the offense's improvement this season has been spread equally to Fred Taylor, David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, a more productive receiving corps, new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and his position coaches. The one group that hasn't gotten its due would seem to be the offensive line.

"The guys are doing a nice job," line coach Andy Heck said. "The entire offense has improved. The quarterback is being smart with the football. It's really a group effort that makes everybody look good."

Offensive linemen have long been expected to labor in anonymity. The Jaguars offensive line, which blocks for the second-ranked rush-offense in the league, didn't have so much as a player mentioned for Pro Bowl honors.

"Vince (Manuwai) is a good player who will continue to improve and, if he does that, those things will come," Heck said of his right guard, who owns the longest consecutive-games streak on the Jaguars, 66 games.

Manuwai is a powerful run-blocker who has paved the way for Fred Taylor to go over 1,000 yards rushing and Jones-Drew to challenge the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year.

The most impressive story on the offensive line, however, would seem to be Maurice Williams, who lost his starting job at right tackle when the Jaguars signed Tony Pashos in free agency, agreed to take a pay cut and play a backup role, then stepped in at right guard at midseason when Chris Naeole suffered a season-ending injury.

"I'm really proud of Mo; stepping up, elevating his game, keeping a positive attitude," Heck said. "We haven't missed a beat."

Williams is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this winter and has certainly improved his value with his performance this year.

"He's a football player. I still think tackle is his position, but he's doing a fine job at guard," Heck said.

The offensive line leapt into the limelight last Sunday in Pittsburgh, especially in the Jaguars' game-winning touchdown drive as the Jaguars marched the ball 73 yards with only one pass completion. The Jaguars dominated a Steelers defense that was number two in the league against the run.

"That was a lot of fun. There was a lot of good football being played. It was great to see. Fred was playing inspiring football. Maurice made huge conversions with the draw. David made some big plays and got out of what should've been a sack," Heck said. "These guys are playing together. You can see the camaraderie."

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