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Wilford eyes top spot


He was the Jaguars' second-leading receiver last season with 41 catches for 681 yards. Ernest Wilford led the team in touchdown catches, seven, and in yards per catch, 16.6. So why shouldn't Wilford be Jimmy Smith's replacement as the Jaguars' number one receiver?

"I don't know. What happens, happens," Wilford said.

Then he smiled. There was more.

"I think I've earned the right to compete for the number one spot. I'm competing like I earned the number one spot," Wilford said.

He's no different than any other player. He wants to be the best.

Currently, Wilford is running backup to Reggie Williams at the "Z" wide receiver position. Matt Jones has been the "X" this spring, which would indicate he's the front-runner to inherit Smith's spot.

"If we continue to do that," Wilford said of the competition at wide receiver, "we'll all get better."

He's always been the ultimate team guy; do whatever he's asked, including a heavy dose of special teams play. In his third season, however, he'd like to reach up to a higher plane. He has very lofty goals.

"I want to get across that water this year. I want to get to the Pro Bowl. I think I have a legitimate shot," Wilford said.

Whatever shot he has, it will, of course, depend on his playing time. He wants to be the Jags' number one receiver. It's a prerequisite for stardom.

Holding him back is his lack of deep speed. It caused him to fall to the fourth round of the 2004 draft. Wilford has the size and athletic ability of a star receiver, but not the speed.

"Look at some of the greats that didn't have top-end speed: Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Michael Irvin. This game is all about heart. If you have the heart and will to be the best receiver, you're going to be the best receiver. I have the heart and determination, so I'm going to be good," he said.

His numbers sure look good.

• Wilford combined for 234 yards receiving in two consecutive games last season (Oct. 30 at St. Louis and Nov. 6 at Houston), the highest two-game receiving total since 2001, when Jimmy Smith had 235 yards in consecutive games.

• He is one of only three Jaguars receivers to have six-plus touchdowns in a season. Smith and Keenan McCardell are the other two.

• Wilford has nine career touchdowns and the Jaguars are 8-1 in those games.

• He has recorded 17 career receptions of 20 or more yards, including 13 in 2005, which tied with Smith for team-best.

"I don't have the speed, but I can use my agility to get open," Wilford said. "I gotta believe in the Word: The first shall be last and the last shall be first."

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