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Pass defense sparkles in afternoon


Depending on your point of view, training camp practices the past couple of days would lead you to believe the Jaguars either have a bad passing attack or a very good pass-defense.

Today marked the second consecutive day practice ended with an interception. Today, however, Donovin Darius' day-ender was just one of many interceptions and passes-defensed. Clearly, it was a day for the secondary.

"One day (the passing game is) sharp, then the next day the defense gets the nod," coach Tom Coughlin said. "It's not just Mark (Brunell). We're not getting too many (receivers) running open, either."

Friday's preseason opener in Atlanta will give us our first indication of this Jaguars team's strengths and weaknesses. Against the Falcons this Friday night, the eyes of Jacksonville will be watching this mystery Jaguars team: Better than expected, or clearly in a rebuilding phase?

"I don't know that I'm happy," Coughlin said this afternoon when asked if he was pleased with his team's performance, "but we're on schedule. We're going to play this game Friday night to see where we are."

Brunell and the Jaguars starters will get a quarter or more of action. Then, Jaguars fans will get a look at a cast of young players whose progress will be required for this team to qualify as improved over last season.

The most high-profile of Friday night's reserves is rookie quarterback David Garrard, who will replace Brunell in the second quarter and play most of the remainder of the game. At times in this camp, Garrard has flashed his talent. At other times, he has struggled, especially in red-zone drills.

Friday's game is one of four opportunities Garrard will have to persuade Coughlin not to sign a veteran backup quarterback. Though the odds would seem to be stacked against Garrard, Coughlin conceded today the opportunity does exist. "Sure; absolutely," Coughlin said.

Coughlin took his team bowling last night. "They had a good time; enjoyed themselves," he said.

Of course, earlier in the day Coughlin scolded his team for a poor Monday morning practice.

Meanwhile, linebacker Eric Westmoreland was back at practice after spraining his left knee yesterday morning, but wide receiver Micah Ross was out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday.

This afternoon marked the 13th day of wide receiver Jimmy Smith's holdout. As usual, Coughlin was asked to comment.

"Like every other player, he needs to be in camp, if the season is going to be what it can be," Coughlin said.

When asked if Smith is capable of delaying his arrival until the week of the season opener and not suffering a setback in form, Coughlin added: "I've seen guys do that and it's not been a pretty sight."

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