Fred Taylor wouldn't offer a timetable for his return to full-time status, but coach Jack Del Rio maintains his expectation that Taylor will be ready to play when the regular season begins.
Taylor was the player of greatest attention as the Jaguars opened training camp Saturday morning with a one-hour, 45-minute practice. First-round draft pick Matt Jones might've shared the spotlight with Taylor, but Jones has yet to reach a contract agreement with the Jaguars and was the only player on the roster not in attendance.
"Fred will continue to rehab and we'll monitor him. We expect to have him for the opener. We're not going to force it," Del Rio told reporters eager for a status report on the star running back's surgically-repaired knee.
Taylor ran the ball a couple of times early in this morning's workout, which was non-padded. Though Taylor's participation was limited, it did mark his first in-practice work since undergoing knee surgery in January.
"I thought I made pretty good strides," Taylor said of his offseason rehab efforts. "Of course, I need to get better to reach where I should be. I'm upbeat. I'm doing everything I can to be the best I can be and help this team."
Expectations are that Taylor will remain limited in his training camp and preseason regimen. Such was the case the previous two summers, and Taylor was in the starting lineup on the opening day of both seasons. He was on pace to reach 1,400 yards rushing when a knee injury in the 14th game of last season ended his year.
"I just need to work. I don't have a timetable," Taylor added.
"The last two years, he's been very limited (in the preseason) and we've gone on to have good seasons with him," Del Rio said. "The idea is to get to Sept. 11 with a healthy roster."
Del Rio pronounced the Jaguars healthy for the start of camp.
"We're in a healthy situation right now, as far as where we are with this football team. Each year we've gotten a little stronger. We're as deep as we have been," Del Rio said. "We feel like we have a good, strong defensive unit. Offensively, we haven't done very well but we've acquired some good, young talent in the draft the last three years."
Quarterback Byron Leftwich was the first draft choice of the Del Rio era in 2003. In his third pro season, Leftwich is expected to lead the Jaguars into the playoffs and he isn't backing down from that challenge.
"It's our time. It's not about potential any more. We have to go out and win football games," Leftwich said following this morning's practice. "We know what type of team we have. Now it's up to us. We're putting pressure on ourselves."
The Jaguars' first-round picks of the last two years, Jones and wide receiver mate Reggie Williams, are expected to team with Leftwich to provide the Jaguars' passing attack of the long-term future. The future, however, is on hold for Jones.
"We continue to negotiate with Matt and we hope to have him in soon," Del Rio said. "Any time a rookie's not here, it's not to his benefit, but it happens every year."
The Jaguars will practice at 7:15 this evening, and at 11 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday. Monday's practices are scheduled for 10:15 a.m. and 7:15 p.m. Monday evening will mark the Jaguars' first full-pads practice.