Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will Salaam Dunk One of the Jaguars' Tackles? Free-Agent Pickup Could Supplant Either Pearson or Williams in Lineup

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Will Salaam Dunk One of the Jaguars' Tackles? Free-Agent Pickup Could Supplant Either Pearson or Williams in Lineup

Article excerpt

Byline: BART HUBBUCH, The Times-Union

It was more than just a footnote when the Jaguars signed veteran offensive lineman Ephraim Salaam in late March.

For starting tackles Mike Pearson and Maurice Williams, it was a shot across the bow.

Salaam has started 85 of a possible 90 games in his six-year NFL career, which is more career starts than Pearson and Williams have combined. So both young pros knew -- as did Salaam -- that the Jaguars didn't sign the former Denver Bronco just for depth purposes.

"I'm used to starting in this league," Salaam said before participating in this week's veterans' camp at Alltel Stadium. "That's really all I know. So I came here with the intention of starting, and we'll see how it works out."

Salaam, who started in the Super Bowl as a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons, took a two-year, $2.2 million deal with a $200,000 signing bonus from the Jaguars this offseason, despite interest from the Chicago Bears and an invitation to return from the Broncos.

Salaam was nursing a knee injury at the time of his decision. He said the Jaguars' training staff, led by Mike Ryan, swayed him to Jacksonville, in part because he felt Ryan and his assistants could produce a speedier recovery.

At the same time, Salaam admits he also was lured to Jacksonville by the prospect of unseating Pearson or Williams for a spot in the starting lineup of what he considers a young team on the rise.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio and offensive line aide Paul Boudreau made it clear when Salaam was signed that they didn't consider him just another backup.

"I don't want either of them [Pearson or Williams] to get too comfortable," Boudreau said in late March.

Pearson was singled out at times for criticism by Del Rio last year.

Williams is signed only through this season, though the team is talking with his agent about a possible contract extension. …

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