Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Hard to Find Starters on the Field for Both Teams

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAGUARS NOTEBOOK; Hard to Find Starters on the Field for Both Teams

Article excerpt

Byline: GARRY SMITS

NFL teams usually rest most of their key starters for the final preseason game.

So when the Atlanta Falcons got the ball to open the game Thursday night at EverBank Field to face the Jaguars, there was only one starter on the field between the two teams, Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox. Cox had four tackles in the first half.

The Falcons started second-team players at every offensive position, including Chris Redman for Matt Ryan at quarterback, Jerious Norwood for Michael Turner at running back and Keith Zinger for Tony Gonzales at tight end.

Scott Starks was the only Jaguars backup on the defensive depth chart who didn't start.

The Jaguars rested six starters on offense: quarterback David Garrard, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, tight end Marcedes Lewis, wide receivers Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas and guard Uche Nwaneri.

Luke McCown, Garrard's backup, faced only four Falcons starters on defense: end Jamaal Anderson, tackle Peria Jerry and linebackers Stephen Nicholas and Curtis Lofton.

Nicholas played high school football at Lee and college at South Florida.

The Falcons started backups at all four secondary positions. They also rested former Jaguar Mike Peterson at linebacker.

INSPIRED BY ISAAC

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio gave players fighting for a roster spot in the final preseason game some inspiration earlier this week when he showed them game video from a 2007 preseason game at Washington, in which Isaac Smolko played six positions.

Smolko spent eight weeks on the practice squad, then appeared in six games later in the season.

He played tight end, fullback, linebacker, defensive end and two special-teams positions in that Redskins game.

He was waived the following year and has spent two years with the Colts and one with the Ravens.

"Jack did a great thing by showing [the video] of Isaac Smolko," Garrard said. …

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