Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Long Shots Aren't New to Rookie

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Long Shots Aren't New to Rookie

Article excerpt


Montell Owens is accustomed to being overlooked.

"I really didn't get any accolades in high school or college," said Owens, a rookie who'll be on the Jaguars' special teams if he plays. "I've always been a backburner guy, having to prove myself. I'm always fighting against the grain."

Coming out of high school in Wilmington, Del., Owens went to a Division I-AA school, Maine, because it offered him a full-ride scholarship. But he didn't start at running back until his senior year.

Owens wasn't even invited to the NFL scouting combine this spring, but his agent, Abu Toppin, said the 5-foot-10, 219-pounder impressed teams with his offseason workouts.

Still, Owens wasn't drafted, so he signed with the Jaguars as a free agent because they showed the most interest. They also have a reputation for giving undrafted rookies a real shot.

"Even when I got here, coach Pete [Rodriguez] didn't have me on the depth chart or anything," Owens said. "Coach Pete said, 'Always take advantage of your opportunities.'"

Early in camp, Owens was surprised when Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio came up to him and said, "The more you can do, the better, right?"

The Jaguars were thin in the secondary, so they wanted Owens to work at safety, but that made him seem like a man without a position. Still, Owens kept working on special teams and moved up the charts.

Owens caught the coaches' eye during the first preseason game at Miami.

"I ran down on the kickoff and hit the wedge pretty good," he said. "That was like the start of my special-teams career."

Owens didn't carry the ball until the final preseason game at Atlanta, where he gained just nine yards in nine carries. But his special-teams work helped Owens, who became one of three undrafted rookies to make the Jaguars' final roster.

But Owens isn't satisfied.

"The hunger is still there," he said. "I've got more to prove."


When Del Rio was a rookie coach in 2003, he put an ax and a tree stump in the Jaguars' locker room to symbolize his theme that the players should "keep chopping wood. …

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