Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Staying in the Mix; Wilford Draws Praise, Runs on First Team

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Staying in the Mix; Wilford Draws Praise, Runs on First Team

Article excerpt


Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success is showing up. Jaguars wide receiver Ernest Wilford is trying to prove him right.

Wilford always shows up. He has missed only one game in his first three seasons, and he was inactive for that one.

Even though he has never been considered a starter, he has started 23 games, including 12 last season, when Matt Jones was injured.

Wilford appeared to be in danger of being the odd man out in the offseason when the Jaguars signed veteran free agent Dennis Northcutt and drafted two more receivers, Mike Walker and John Broussard. Yet Wilford now is back in the familiar position of working with the first unit in the Jaguars' offseason drills.

Reggie Williams was sidelined the last two weeks with a broken finger and a pulled hamstring. Jones practiced Tuesday, but was out last week with a quadricep injury that still hasn't completely healed. Jones missed the last two days for personal reasons.

Walker, who still has a tender knee after undergoing surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament last year, tweaked his hamstring during practice Thursday. Broussard missed the last two weeks because his class at San Jose State hasn't graduated yet.

So when the first unit took the field this week, Wilford and Charles Sharon, a Palatka native who didn't appear in a game last season, were the starting receivers, with Northcutt in the slot.

Wilford spent most of his first three seasons in the shadow of Williams and Jones, who were first-round picks in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

"That's [first round] just where they were chosen," said Todd Monken, the Jaguars' new receivers coach. "What their status has been doesn't affect the here and now."

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said it's time to worry about Jones staying healthy because he has had many nagging injuries in his first two seasons.

"It has to worry you," he said. "It should worry him."

Jones, a college quarterback, has had to adjust to additional running in the NFL.

"When he's been asked to do that [running], his body hasn't held up, so there's a question he has to answer," Del Rio said.

Del Rio didn't seem to be as concerned about Williams' status.

"He's been very durable," Del Rio said. "He should be back quickly."

How all this shakes out in training camp remains to be seen, but Wilford has earned praise from coaches.

"Ernest is doing a nice job," Del Rio said. "He's a stand-up guy and, like everybody else, he's got an opportunity to compete. He's got a new position coach [Monken], a new coordinator [Dirk Koetter] and he's getting a fresh look in terms of how he stacks up with the group."

Added Monken: "He's a super worker. He wants to do it perfect every time. Football is important to him. …

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