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Rookie DT's impressive


The Jaguars failed in their bid to sign free agent Darren Sharper, leaving the safety position as a place of considerable concern, but if the play of top draft picks Tyson Alualu (pictured) and D'Anthony Smith in this mini-camp is any indication, the Jaguars' problems up front may be solved.

Alualu and Smith, the Jaguars' first two picks in this year's draft, got rave reviews from General Manager Gene Smith and Head Coach Jack Del Rio for the defensive tackles' performance in the three-day, five-practice mini-camp. Terry McDonough, the team's director of football operations, commented that at times the two couldn't be blocked.

All of that, of course, needs to be received with an element of reserve, since mini-camp is a no-pads, no-contact forum, but Alualu and Smith flashed speed and power in one-on-one type pass-rush drills.

"Alualu and D.A. Smith are going to be real nice additions. They're active, disruptive, athletic defensive tackles," Del Rio said. "We really believe they'll give us some push in the middle and make the quarterback uncomfortable. That'll help the ends. We feel having guys giving a push in the middle is going to help us."

It certainly can't hurt. Anything resembling a push up front would be welcome on a team that led the league in not sacking the quarterback last season.

In training camp-like heat on Monday, Alualu displayed pass-rush moves one on-looker described as "sick." GM Smith described the two defensive tackles as "comparable."

Alualu was a surprise pick at number 10 overall. His play in mini-camp supported his selection.

D'Anthony Smith played on a Louisiana Tech team that was accustomed to playing in high-scoring, high-tempo games. Defense was not Tech's calling card, but Smith has the look of a dominant defensive tackle.

"The offensive linemen are a lot bigger," Smith said in comparing the NFL to college football. "Obviously, they recognize talent. Me and Tyson go at it every day. We're just competing and trying to make each other better."

Safety is a position at which the Jaguars would like to have the same overload of competition, but mini-camp only served to confirm concerns for the back of the Jaguars defense. What the Jaguars do at that position between now and the start of the season may determine to what degree the team improves on defense in 2010.

"We've got a hungry team," Del Rio said in his ending address to the media on Monday. "I've got a team that wants to work. Defensively, we have more speed. We have more awareness. David (Garrard) rededicated. He's at a place right now that he wants to put it all together and it's great to have your quarterback like that. I saw linebackers being decisive and going downhill. Kirk Morrison is a great addition."

Del Rio was informed as he left the field that Sharper had re-signed with the Saints.

"We had an opportunity to add a veteran and wanted to do that. We'll move on," he said.

What they do in moving on will be critical.

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