JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Here are five observations on the Jacksonville Jaguars, gleaned from the training camp practices of Aug. 2:
1. It isn't a good sign when the leading receiver in franchise history (Jimmy Smith) has retired, the guy who is supposed to replace him as the big-play threat in the passing game (Matt Jones) has his foot strapped into a walking boot because of an ankle injury, and the team's best runner (Fred Taylor) is nursing a groin injury sustained during a conditioning run on the opening day of camp. Even the lead character on "My Name is Earl" might call that some bad karma. Some might suggest the wheels already have come off the Jaguars, who in 2005 became one of just a dozen wild-card teams since 1990, when the NFL adopted the 12-team playoff format, to win 12 games.
Coaches and players insist, however, that, the early camp detours aside, Jacksonville is capable of motoring all the way to Super Bowl XLI. Time will tell. It might have been more appropriate had the Jaguars qualified for Super Bowl XL because they might be the extra-largest team in the entire league. You expect, when the Jags run onto the field for practice, to hear the strains of "Sweet Georgia Brown" in the background, and the team to line up for layup drills. Size is the most obvious element at virtually every position here, but most conspicuously among the offensive skill-position guys. The top three wide receivers -- Jones, Reggie Williams and Ernest Wilford -- average 6-foot-4¾ and 223.3 pounds. Quarterback Byron Leftwich is 6-5 and 242 pounds. And first-round tight end Marcedes Lewis checked in at 6-6 and 265. The point man, Leftwich, might be tempted at some point with a big lead to attempt a no-look, behind-the-back, wrap-around pass to a guy streaking down the wing.