Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Running Game Making Strides, Jags Coach Says; Taylor, Drew, Jones Will Be Big Part of Team's "Explosive Quality" in '06

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Running Game Making Strides, Jags Coach Says; Taylor, Drew, Jones Will Be Big Part of Team's "Explosive Quality" in '06

Article excerpt

Byline: VITO STELLINO

Running back Fred Taylor didn't participate in the Jaguars' voluntary offseason program, which ended Wednesday. But the Jaguars are still expecting him to show a lot on the field this fall.

Coach Jack Del Rio said that when the team takes the field again for training camp July 29, he expects the Jaguars to have a more potent running game than a year ago.

And Taylor will be a big part of that, even though he skipped all 14 OTAs.

"We're going to be able to run the ball. We're going to have an explosive quality to us. We've got the ability to strike from longer distances,'' Del Rio said.

Breaking the long run is Taylor's game, and it helps that he's healthier now than in 2005, when he was still recovering from knee surgery at the start of training camp. He was then slowed by injuries during the season and gained just 787 yards in 11 games.

Del Rio expects Taylor to arrive for camp in top shape, the same way he did at the mandatory minicamp in early May.

"He's healthy coming into this season instead of going into camp not practicing, and you're hoping he's back and [wondering] how soon can he start working. He's training like a madman, and he's on a mission," Del Rio said.

"And you add a guy like Maurice [Drew] and he has some explosiveness to him, and we're looking at things that Greg [Jones] does well, and then there's our line play.''

Drew, the team's second-round draft pick, is only 5 feet 7, but he's a speedster who might be able to break long runs as a part-time back. Jones is a good blocker who adds a change of pace.

Taylor's longest run was 71 yards last season. Alvin Pearman was the only other runner to break a run longer than 27 yards when he ran for 45.

Del Rio said he's been in communication with Taylor and seems to have accepted the fact that Taylor decided to skip the workouts.

"It'd be a little different if a backup guy was doing this. I'd like everybody to be here, and what I ask our guys to do is communicate with me,'' Del Rio said.

Taylor, who turned 30 this year, made some comments at the start of the offseason program about a lack of loyalty in pro football, but Del Rio didn't seem worried about Taylor's commitment to the Jaguars. …

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