Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunell Focused on This Season

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunell Focused on This Season

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

Mark Brunell says anyone who thinks of his Jacksonville Jaguars career in the past tense because the team drafted quarterback Byron Leftwich is getting ahead of the game.

The Jaguars' eight-year starter was in California for the NFL Quarterback Challenge Saturday when the team used its first-round pick on Leftwich. But Brunell has no intention of relinquishing his job as long as the front office wants him around.

"Sure, we got a first-round quarterback, but I'm not going to lay down," Brunell said yesterday after returning from his West Coast trip. "I'm going to fight for my job and produce.

"If I was 36 or 37 years-old, yeah, it might be time to think about hanging it up. But I'm 32. I can still be a productive quarterback in this league."

Brunell, who is signed through 2004, intends to participate in this weekend's mandatory minicamp and proceed as if he still holds the starting job.

"My goals haven't changed," Brunell said. "At the top of my list is winning a championship for Jacksonville and my teammates. I think I'll have that opportunity this year. After that, I don't know. The only thing I can control is how hard I work, how my next minicamp goes.

"I'm going to be positive. There are things that will be said and done that I have no control over."

The Jaguars' selection of Leftwich and stalled negotiations over a contract extension have raised questions about whether Brunell's days in Jacksonville might be numbered.

"It is what it is," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "Mark understands."

Del Rio appeared to be non-committal about Brunell's future on Saturday, saying that he couldn't answer whether the team would continue negotiating a new contract or if it was in the organization's best interest.

Yesterday, Del Rio said he's merely trying to create competition at all positions and looks forward to Brunell being on the field.

"Nobody knows what their future is," Del Rio said. "I knew Mark would come in [to minicamp] and compete. He's a professional. Why wouldn't he? He's going to fight for his job to be the leader of this team. I expect no less. …

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