Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunell Makes Jags His Team

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunell Makes Jags His Team

Article excerpt

Mark Brunell took a major step last week. Not as a passer, but

as a leader.

"I think this is [my team]," he said.

For Brunell, the reluctant leader, that's a major step. It's

also a necessary one.

Last Sunday, the Jaguars lost their team leader. Defensive end

Jeff Lageman suffered a torn biceps muscle that required

surgery and forced him to the injured reserve list.

The void he leaves is huge.

Young players looked up to Lageman. Not just defensive players,

either. Lage-man was the team leader, a vocal veteran who

spurred the team on at critical moments.

He did it with a tough-guy demeanor that was as demanding as

that of coach Tom Coughlin. Lageman's four-letter tirades were

talks that young players wouldn't forget.

"You listened when he talked," said defensive tackle Seth

Payne.

Lageman will still be around the team. He had surgery last

week, and promised the team he will help out in meetings and on

the field. Lageman wants a Super Bowl ring, even if he can't

help on the field.

"He was probably more of a team leader than a defensive

leader," said Coughlin. "He was a solid force in the locker

room, a solid citizen who is not afraid to give his opinion on

things. Always did a good job with the young players."

It will be interesting to see how that translates now that he is

not playing. The NFL is a cruel world for injured players. You

go from team leader to castoff doing rehab with one attempted

tackle.

Lageman may still be there for the players, but since he's not

playing, the leadership must come from somewhere else. Somebody

who is playing.

That somebody is Brunell.

He is ready for it.

"I don't mind at all," he said. "There comes a point where the

quarterback has to have that role, has to be that person. …

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