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Opportunity meets need

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Lionel Barnes may only need a chance, and the Jaguars certainly need someone such as Barnes to come out of nowhere. It may be the perfect match.

Barnes is one of the standouts of the first few days of training camp, and though off-the-wall names are routinely dismissed as flash-in-the-pan types early in training camp, the Jaguars can't afford to overlook anybody who might offer help at defensive end.

Might Barnes be that guy?

"There isn't a big difference between a marquee person and one who isn't, other than opportunity. I definitely appreciate (the chance). I'm at a point that I understand football enough that I know how to make the most of the right situation," Barnes said.

The situation couldn't be any more perfect for Barnes. This is it; possibly his final shot at the NFL. And he's getting that chance on a team desperate for a pass-rushing defensive end.

"I wanted to play pro basketball. I ended up giving it up. I thought about transferring, then decided to give football a shot," Barnes said.

He spent his first three years at Louisiana-Monroe on the basketball team. Then, for his senior season, he switched sports and the NFL saw the size (6-5, 265), quickness and athletic talent for Barnes to be a candidate for defensive football's most important role: pass-rusher.

The Rams took a look; so did the Colts. They saw enough to keep Barnes around for awhile, but his inexperience was too much to overcome. He spent last year out of football.

But the Jaguars' situation at defensive end, where Tony Brackens' future remains in doubt, is such that coach Jack Del Rio will have to take a long look at Barnes. And what Del Rio has seen to date is worth further investigation.

In the first practice of training camp, Barnes swatted away offensive tackle Leander Jordan's hands and darted around Jordan for what would've been a sack. Sunday, Barnes bull-rushed tackle Dave Kadela, driving Kadela into running back Elvis Joseph for a three-yard loss.

This morning, in individual pass-rushing/pass-blocking drills, Barnes made a quick move to the outside to get by his man, again.

He's opened some eyes. Can he sustain his quick start?

Kicker James Tuthill got off to a quick start this morning in the first of the training camp kicking competitions. Tuthill made all four of his field goal attempts, while Seth Marler was two of four and Danny Boyd was one of four. Those stats were confirmed by special teams coach Bill Bates as "official."

Veteran cornerback Kiwaukee Thomas intercepted a pass by David Garrard, who didn't enjoy his best practice. Meanwhile, Mark Brunell was very sharp; so sharp that Brunell nearly took the heads off a group of reporters standing just beyond the end zone backline.

"It was an excellent morning. The offensive line did some good things in the run drills," Del Rio said.

He also praised running back Fred Taylor's performance.

"Fred's been outstanding. He's in great shape, he's running hard and he looks very determined to have a great year," Del Rio added.

The Jaguars' rookie coach began his post-practice press conference by addressing defensive tackle Larry Smith's condition following Smith's collapse in the heat Sunday morning.

"Larry wasn't back on the field today. Larry spent the night in the hospital to make sure everything is OK," Del Rio said.

"(Trainer) Mike Ryan and his staff responded beautifully," Del Rio said in praising his medical personnel in their treatment of Smith's condition.

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