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Weighing positives, negatives

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Back when teams went away to camp, there were two big days: the day they arrived at camp and the day they left. On the day they left, the head coach would always sit down with his media for an analysis of what had been accomplished at camp and what the team was taking with them in the way of hope for the season.

Those were different days. Training camps were longer and more demanding. By the time teams left camp, half the cuts were already made. Training camp was a place of drama back then.

There wasn't much fanfare when Jack Del Rio stood in front of the media yesterday afternoon and bid farewell to the 2010 camp, but the Jaguars coach took time to reflect on the plusses and minuses of the past three weeks. Here's one reporter's long version of the positives and negatives.

Positives

Naming rights—Getting EverBank's name on the field and Florida Blue's name on the practice facility won't win any games for the Jaguars, but they'll go a long way toward securing the Jaguars' future in Jacksonville.

Wide receiver—The Jaguars went into training camp looking for a number two receiver; they came out of training camp with several young receivers in ascent and with what appears to be a wide receiver corps of the long-term future. Second-year receivers Mike Thomas and Tiquan Underwood are in meteoric rise.

Rashad Jennings—A star may have been born. Jennings has special skills as a receiver out of the backfield. That in itself is going to help take some of the load off Maurice Jones-Drew.

Return game—Sixth-round draft picks Deji Karim and Scotty McGee might give the Jaguars a home-run threat in the return game this season.

Larry Hart—The rookie from Central Arkansas is beginning to show signs of being the pass-rusher the Jaguars desperately need.

Roster—More work needs to be done, but the roster is clearly in ascent. Young players are settling in as fixtures at their positions.

Pass-blocking—It's improved, which means David Garrard shouldn't get hit as often this season, which means the Jaguars are at least succeeding at one of their primary goals this year: rush the passer and protect the quarterback.

The weather—The hottest training camp anyone can remember should give the Jaguars a huge advantage at one o'clock on Sept. 12, in the opener against Denver.

Negatives

The first two draft picks—First-round pick Tyson Alualu arrived late and got hurt quickly. Third-rounder D'Anthony Smith is likely gone for the year with an Achilles injury he sustained in the first week of camp. That's a double hit on the defensive tackle position and it has clearly hurt the Jaguars' efforts at improving their defense.

Zach Miller's foot—He re-injured it Sunday night after missing all of OTAs and the first week of camp. The tight end/H-back/wide receiver figures prominently into the Jaguars' plans. Results of his recent visit to the doctor will weigh heavily on what the Jaguars do scheme-wise on offense this year.

Linebacker—The Jaguars lack depth, as evidenced by having signed guys off the street recently.

Derrick Harvey—He started fast but disappeared in week two.

The pass-rush—It has yet to surface, as we await the return of Alualu and the play time Aaron Kampman needs to have the impact everyone is expecting him to have.

Could go either way

Ticket sales—The season-ticket push ends with Saturday's preseason home opener, which means the effort to avoid blackouts in 2010 will fall on single-game, group and half-pack sales for the remainder of the season.

Guard—The left guard spot remains open to competition. The Jaguars need for either Kynan Forney, Justin Smiley or Vince Manuwai to prove they can take the job and hold it.

Safety—Play at this critical last-line-of-defense position is still rocky. It missed too many tackles and allowed too many touchdowns last season for the Jaguars to expect any kind of improvement on defense without improvement at the safety positions.

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