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Waiting for the green light


Jack Del Rio doesn&39;t know when the NFL lockout finally will end.

In that way, he is very much like most NFL observers, but what Del Rio – entering his ninth season as the Jaguars&39; head coach – said he does know is this:

When the lockout ends, the Jaguars will be ready. Very, very ready.

"Obviously, we&39;re all on alert and hopeful that things will get resolved and we&39;ll get back and kick off the year," Del Rio said Wednesday during the team&39;s Evening With the Coaches event at EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville.

Del Rio, along with linebackers coach Mark Duffner, running backs coach Earnest Byner and defensive line coach Joe Cullen, spoke to season-ticket holders at the event for more than an hour, discussing strategy and breaking down film.

Before the event, Del Rio discussed the coaches&39; approach to the ongoing lockout.

Because of the work stoppage, coaches have been unable to work with players this off-season, and with the exception of a brief period in late April, team officials and coaches have been unable to even communicate with players.

The Jaguars&39; assistant coaches, who have spent much of the lockout – now in its fourth month – evaluating schemes, planning for next season and preparing practice and training camp schedules, will get time off beginning next week, Del Rio said.

"We&39;re at that point now where it&39;s time to go on that vacation we&39;d typically be taking this time of year anyway," he said. "We&39;ve all had a lot of time to work through the different scenarios that may unfold. We&39;re ready to go.

"We&39;re looking for that green light so we can get started."

Del Rio said despite what likely will be a shortened time to prepare for preseason and perhaps the regular season, "We&39;re prepared to give them (the players) a crash course, for sure," with undrafted rookie free agents and other rookies likely will having the most difficult adjustment.

"Typically, we have the last two weeks of May and the full month of June to really allow the undrafted and rookie players to develop to the point where they have a chance to fight for a spot," Del Rio said. "Some of those guys will be a little further behind. It doesn&39;t make it impossible; it just makes it tougher for them. We&39;ll still go to camp with the idea in mind that we want to select the best guys on our football team to help us win."

Jaguars players have been working out at Atlantic Coast High School in Jacksonville, doing so without supervision or input from the coaching staff or team.

"I get reports from you guys," Del Rio said to the media Wednesday. "That&39;s about all I can do. That&39;s really all we can do. It doesn&39;t surprise me. We have a good core of leaders who seem to be stepping up and kind of leading the way. Hopefully, that will pay dividends for us when we get going."

Del Rio said while the Jaguars didn&39;t build a roster of solid character with the lockout specifically in mind, emphasizing the area should help in the current circumstances.

"It does help when you have men of character," Del Rio said. "Guys like (defensive end) Aaron Kampman, guys like (linebacker) Daryl Smith, they&39;re going to do the right thing. I know those are some of the guys out there leading the way for the other players."

Del Rio said the return of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, and the Jaguars running essentially the same offense as the last four seasons, will help the offense. That&39;s particularly true at quarterback with returning starter David Garrard and veteran reserve Luke McCown.

Rookie Blaine Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the NFL Draft, will face a more difficult challenge with a limited time to learn the offense. Gabbert received a playbook from the team shortly after the draft, and he has worked out with veterans at Atlantic Coast, but could face an extended period of learning once camp and the preseason begin.

"Obviously, we&39;ll have to get Blaine caught up to speed as quickly as possible,"" Del Rio said, adding, "We&39;re champing at the bit. Everybody involved with football is hoping this thing gets settled soon and we can get back to doing our thing. We&39;ll get our guys ready and we&39;ll all start at the same point. It&39;s just a matter of when we get the green light."

Also at the event:

*Duffner spent a lot of time breaking down the play of veteran linebacker Daryl Smith, calling him a "stat-sheet stuffer."

*Del Rio outlined the process of calling plays and attacking a defense during a game. "I think some people have the ability to do it and some don&39;t," Del Rio said. "I feel that Dirk Koetter does a nice job of showing looks and coming back and taking advantage of what the defense is expecting and taking advantage of opportunities there."

*Byner said offensive coaches have discussed and studied 3-4 defenses with more teams moving to the scheme in recent seasons. "We&39;ve studied 3-4 teams and how to attack 3-4 teams," Byner said. "They present a little bit different variety of problems. There are certain ways you need to run the ball against 3-4 teams and certain ways you can attack them. We&39;ve actually done a study to see if we can add some plays that attack 3-4." 

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