Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Minnesota DE Udeze Inconsistent Thus Far

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Minnesota DE Udeze Inconsistent Thus Far

Article excerpt

Byline: BART HUBBUCH, The Times-Union

The Jaguars were second-guessed nationally for passing on Southern Cal defensive end Kenechi Udeze in the first round of the NFL Draft last April, but it doesn't appear they missed out on much.

Now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, Udeze on Sunday will face the team that snubbed him on draft day. But even Udeze's coach says the rookie has been frustratingly inconsistent despite starting all 10 games at the primary pass-rushing position of right end.

"He's played OK," Vikings coach Mike Tice said of Udeze, who has three sacks but none in his past three games. "He started out good, kind of hit a bump, then came on again, but he's kind of leveled off a little bit."

The Jaguars had -- and still have -- a glaring need for a pass rusher, and they were keen on taking Udeze until being scared off by a partially torn rotator cuff. Jacksonville, picking ninth overall, chose Washington wide receiver Reggie Williams instead.

The shoulder injury also scared off several teams just as sack-needy as the Jaguars, causing Udeze to tumble out of the top 10 before the Vikings scooped him up with the 20th pick.

"We really like Udeze, but I just think he has to cut it loose," Tice said Wednesday. "Like a lot of guys on our defense, he's too concerned with making mistakes."


Sensing the continuing fan displeasure over last Sunday's loss to injury-ravaged Tennessee, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio pointed to his team's 6-4 record and pleaded for calm.

"The sky is not falling," said Del Rio, whose team remains in the thick of the AFC playoff race. "I think that's important to point out."

Del Rio said he has made the same point to his players in meetings this week and on the practice field, telling them there are "six games left, so let's play them and see where the chips lie at the end."


Del Rio, who played four seasons as a linebacker for Minnesota in the early 1990s, doesn't dispute the long-standing rumor that the Vikings pump in crowd noise during games at the Metrodome.

"Their crowd noise -- whether it comes from the actual crowd or from some speakers, I'm not sure -- is awfully loud," Del Rio said. …

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