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Pearson takes first steps


This was not just another carefree April day for Mike Pearson. It wasn't just another routine offseason workout. Today, Pearson took his surgically-repaired left knee out for a "test drive" for all to see.

So, how did it go? "I feel great. Coach Boudreau asked me how I felt. I said, how did I look? He said, 'You looked fine,'" Pearson said of his offensive line coach's evaluation.

Pearson didn't look fine when he left Alltel Stadium on Oct. 3. While blocking the Colts' Dwight Freeney, Pearson's knee was leg-whipped into a grotesque angle, making it immediately clear for all to see that Pearson's season had ended.

It was darn near a total blowout. The anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments were all torn. The only good news was that Pearson had sustained no cartilage or meniscus damage. He was on his way to Birmingham, Ala., where renowned knee surgeon Dr. James Andrews did the honors.

"The only time I got down was when they took the bandages off and I saw that long scar," Pearson said.

Words of encouragement from his wife sent him into rehab and while Pearson's teammates were in the process of falling one win shy of making the playoffs, he was quickly making giant strides toward the 2005 season. Now, as the offseason turns toward the spring practice season, there's no doubt in Pearson's mind that he's going to make it all the way back.

"I know I'm going to be the opening-day starter at (left) tackle. It's not being cocky. It's how you have to look at it," Pearson said. "I've being running for a month. If somebody asked me what percentage I would be, I would say between 85 and 90 percent. The way things are going now, 95-100 (for the start of training camp). The first test will be when I hit somebody."

Today marked the first day the Jaguars went outside as a team for running drills. Their offseason conditioning program began on Monday, with Donovin Darius, Marcus Stroud and Fred Taylor noticeably absent. It is, of course, a voluntary conditioning program.

Though these are the 2005 season's first baby steps, they are of critical importance to Pearson. He expects the Jaguars to draft a tackle a little more than two weeks from now, and it just so happens that his fourth season as a pro coincides with the final year of his Jaguars contract. This is the season that'll either send him into free agency or give him security as a Jaguar.

"I understand it. What if they take a tackle? That's just smart business. I want to be here," he said.

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