Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Era, but Same Issues for Jaguars

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Era, but Same Issues for Jaguars

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

The Jaguars promised fans a "new era." Symbolically, those words meant not just a coaching change, but a concerted effort to upgrade the personnel and get this franchise back toward winning again.

We can't know yet for certain if this team can make that happen, but this much seems clear after nearly three weeks of training camp and one lackluster preseason win: Jack Del Rio may need more time rebuilding the Jaguars than Tom Coughlin did building them.

As much as the players talk enthusiastically about the 2003 season, how rejuvenated they are by Del Rio's more laid-back approach, there remains some unsettling signs from the money players that this could be a bumpy ride back to respectability.

Let's start with one of the most perplexing holdouts in team history. Not first-round draft pick Byron Leftwich, but the perpetually rehabilitating Tony Brackens. The guy who has made $19 million over the last three years is trying to battle back from two surgeries -- a microfracture knee operation last November and an appendectomy on June 15. He ran briefly yesterday for the first time and looked nowhere ready to start practicing, much less suit up for the Sept. 7 season opener as he indicated at the start of training camp.

Up to now, the Jaguars' career sack leader has avoided the fragile tag that has dogged running back Fred Taylor over the years. But do you realize Tender Tony has been sidelined 19 regular-season games over the same five-year period in which Taylor missed 24 games?

"When all is said and done, I know Tony [Brackens] will be ready and prove a lot of people wrong," said Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer. "When the time is right, he'll be out there making those flashy plays like he used to make."

But if the Jagaurs shared that sentiment, then why did they go out and hand a $6 million signing bonus to free agent Hugh Douglas? …

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