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Wiegert longs for guard


(Sept. 4)--Zach Wiegert will tell you he's out of position; that he'd love nothing more than for second-round pick Mike Pearson to establish himself at left tackle, which would allow Wiegert to move back to his natural position, guard. Wiegert will even tell you he doesn't want to make tackle money; that what he wants most is a new contract that will secure his future in Jacksonville, and he'd be very willing to settle for guard money. After all, that's what he really is, a guard.

Wiegert will open the 2002 season as a member of a select club. He is currently one of 32 starting left tackles in the NFL. He has status as a starter at football's premium offensive line position, where only the most gifted blockers are permitted to assume a three-point stance. But he'd rather be at guard.

"All things being the same, I'd rather be playing guard because it's easier," Wiegert said with a smile. "I'm a run-blocker. I know I can block the run."

Left tackle is for pass-blockers. Every week is another test against the game's best pass-rushers. Left tackles pass-block first, run-block second. Some left tackles aren't adequate run-blockers, but all left tackles are natural pass-blockers, which is cause for anxiety for Wiegert. He came from Nebraska; he's a road-grader.

"My thing is I want to stay here. I'm 30 years old and I don't want to start up with a new team again. If I finished my career here, I'd keep my home in Jacksonville," Wiegert said.

For that to occur, Wiegert knows he'll eventually have to settle back into his rightful position. Pearson holds the key. If Pearson, a pure pass-blocking left tackle, progresses quickly enough this season to move Wiegert out, then left guard Brad Meester might move into his natural spot at center, which would allow Wiegert to move into Meester's left guard spot.

"They wouldn't have drafted the kid if they didn't want him to play," Wiegert said of Pearson.

The fact of the matter is that not only would Wiegert benefit from Pearson's development, but so would the Jags. They need a pure pass-blocker at left tackle, and a Wiegert, Meester and Chris Naeole combination at the guard-center-guard positions might provide the Jaguars with the best inside run-blocker trio in team history.

"I've got 4-5 years left in me. We'd have five linemen all under contract for a long time. If we got anybody hurt, I could move to their position. I'd be the swing guy," Wiegert said in somewhat of a campaign speech. But he's right.

"I think our offensive line is vastly improved. I think it's our best group since 1999," he added.

For Wiegert to remain in Jacksonville next season, his contract will have to be re-worked during the offseason. His salary is scheduled to spike to $2.25 million in '03. He knows that won't work.

"I want to get my deal done for guard. I don't want to be paid as a tackle. I'm not a left tackle," he said.

For now, he is.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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