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Richesson gives Jags thumbs up


The Jaguars offseason conditioning program, thought to be the most intense in all the NFL, comes to a close on Thursday with strength coach Luke Richesson's seal of approval.

"I am content. We left no stone unturned in making this team better. We had extremely high goals going in and we met them. The team is ready to get it on in 2010," Richesson told as he reviewed the program's achievements.

"There were so many things we wanted to accomplish, from identifying the guys we could count on in the late rounds of a fight, to overhauling the offensive and defensive lines in terms of strength, power, conditioning and mindset; getting these guys to buy into the vision of winning a championship. That was the vision coach Del Rio set forth. Minus one guy, we were 100 percent attendance through 13 weeks of training," Richesson said.

The Jaguars are currently in their 14th week of conditioning; the only team in the league still conducting its conditioning program. For veteran players that achieved 100 percent attendance through the first 13 weeks, the 14th week is optional; for rookies, it remains mandatory.

"We still have 16 vets in house, in addition to 20 rookies," Richesson said.

Veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis, a no-show through OTAs, is the only player not to have achieved 100 percent attendance.

"Coach Del Rio laid it out there. No more excuses. We need to come out and win this year. A lot of guys used that as a rallying cry. Number two, it speaks volumes of the guys we're drafting and bringing in," Richesson said.

Did the team get stronger in this offseason?

"Without question; across the board," Richesson answered. Richesson is in his second year as the team's strength and conditioning coach. "Last year, it was a bare bones set up. We got the team headed in the right direction, or how the team should train. We got them to understand their bodies, recovery, regeneration. This year we worked on the motor. Now it's all about adding horsepower."

Second-year offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton added horsepower. Monroe is down to 300 pounds; he weighed 329 when he was drafted.

"He's 17 percent body fat and he's brutally strong," Richesson said of Monroe. "Eben Britton was outstanding. He stepped up in a leadership role. He's 310 pounds and rocked up; he has an edge. He dropped body fat; there's a measurable shift in muscle.

"When we step off the bus, the linebackers and the defensive backs can't be the toughest, meanest guys. The guys in the trenches have to be the tone-setters. As they play, so will the team," Richesson added.

Clearly, the reconstruction of the Jaguars roster under General Manager Gene Smith has focused on rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines. Monroe, Britton and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton became starters as rookies last year, and Smith used his first four picks in this year's draft on defensive linemen.

"It amazes me that these guys can come from Division One programs and still be so raw. Their ceiling is so high. They don't even realize how good they can be," Richesson said. "(Defensive line coach) Joe Cullen's intensity since day one in OTAs has been infectious. This will be a night-and-day group from last year. This will be a relentless group that'll have only one gear and that's high."

Richesson also reports that center Brad Meester has cut his weight by 15 pounds and guard Vince Manuwai is in the 320's for the first time in his career.

"As Dave goes and the guys in the trenches go, so goes the team," Richesson said, referring to quarterback David Garrard. "We have to rally around Dave."

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