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Pre-camp look at Jags


(July 15)—The countdown has begun: two weeks exactly until training camp begins. That means two weeks remain to play golf, go to the beach, sleep in and otherwise enjoy a normal existence. It also means that other than for a verdict on a possible trade for Travis Henry, the Jaguars roster is what it is and help is probably not on the way.

So, why is that a problem? Show me where this team has need. Where are the Jaguars deficient?

Some would say right cornerback is a problem area; that left offensive tackle is a possible trouble spot and, of course, running back is up in the air until the Jaguars either pull the trigger on a trade or Fred Taylor makes it all the way back from January knee surgery.

Now, I'm not exactly a rose-colored glasses kind of guy. Had I been on the Titanic, I would've been up on the deck looking for icebergs instead of downstairs dancin'. OK, so I acknowledge a few minor ice floes. It sure would be nice to have two Rashean Mathis', a Tony Boselli in his prime and a James Stewart to buy time for Taylor to fully heal.

You wanna take a look at the competition? Do the Patriots have a few trouble spots? Do the Colts have concerns on defense?

In this reporter's opinion, right cornerback and left offensive tackle could become positions of strength for the Jaguars.

Rookie cornerback Scott Starks was outstanding late in the spring. If he continues his surge in training camp, Starks will be everything the Jaguars need at the "squat corner," which is the less-demanding of the two cornerback spots.

Mike Pearson holds firm to his belief he's fully recovered from his knee reconstruction of last October, and that he'll be in the starting lineup on opening day. If he is, the Jaguars will have time to bring rookie Khalif Barnes along at a reasonable pace, and that would make for a very strong situation at left tackle.

Running back remains the most legitimate position of concern. Coach Jack Del Rio says Fred Taylor looked real good in a recent workout, and Del Rio announced a timetable for easing Taylor back into action, but concerns at the position are legitimate because the Jaguars are facing a rugged first-half-of-the-season schedule.

One of two things has to happen to ease anxiety at running back: The Jaguars either need to finalize a deal for a veteran running back, such as Travis Henry, or one of the guys in their current stable of running backs has to emerge as an adequate replacement for or complement to Taylor.

All eyes are currently on a trade for Henry, for the obvious reason. He would give the Jaguars a running back of star quality to replace or complement another running back of star quality.

What I'm trying to say is that two weeks out from the start of training camp, I like what I see. I like the look of this team's roster. I see no reason not to think this team can be a playoff contender this season, and should the Jaguars address that nagging little cough at running back, I might even be willing to upgrade my expectations.

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