Taylor missed 24 of 64 regular-season games from 1998-2001 because of various muscle-related injuries, which earned him the derisive nickname of Fragile Fred. With a new contract that includes an $8 million signing bonus, Taylor isn't dwelling on his injury-filled past.
"I've learned not to worry about things I can't control," said Taylor. "I've always described the injuries as bad luck because that's what it was. People are going to say stuff, but I'm doing my part. And with all the incentives in the contract, I'm going to be highly motivated (to stay healthy)."
Linebacker Akin Ayodele, a 2002 third-round draft pick who was very productive as a rookie, anticipates that his role will be even more diversified than last season when he played mostly on the strong side and sometimes lined up as a defensive end. He will likely continue performing on special teams as well.
Ayodele envisions playing both the strong side and weakside linebacker spots because head coach Jack Del Rio prefers a defense, especially in the linebacker corps, of interchangeable parts.
"What they want is guys that can play different spots, strong side or weakside and maybe play all three (linebacker positions)," said Ayodele. "It doesn't matter to me as long as I'm on the field. Nothing is new to me because I've played all those linebacker positions before, even the middle.
"I think they just stuck me on the strong side last year because they didn't know how fast I could learn another position. I'd love to be involved in passing game coverage on the weakside and try to get more interceptions. That's fine with me."
The Jaguars' 2003 schedule looks a lot more favorable in the first half of the season, and not just because the team avoids going on the road for the entire month of October.
In the first eight games, the Jaguars face only two playoff opponents -- at Indianapolis on Sept. 21 and home against Tennessee on Oct. 26 -- and the combined record of those eight teams is 64-64. But in the second half of the season, the Jaguars face five playoff opponents and the combined record of the last eight teams is 73-54-1.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I haven't heard anything, there's nothing to report. The numbers are such that it just takes time. I don't think you just come up and do this overnight. I don't think we're in any real hurry. It's April. We'll see." -- Quarterback Mark Brunell, on whether there's been any progress on him and the team reaching an agreement on a contract extension.
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