Jaguars News and Notes

A day after the draft ended, the Jaguars continued to work on strengthening their defensive unit that was a team weak point a year ago. Jacksonville allowed an average of 28 points a game in the final four weeks of the regular season, resulting in four consecutive losses and costing the team a shot at the playoffs.



After acquiring four defensive linemen with their first four picks in the draft, Jacksonville also traded for Oakland linebacker Kirk Morrison who comes in as the team's starting middle linebacker. But the Jaguars didn't stop there. They agreed to a one-year veteran minimum contract ($630,000) with former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Freddy Keiaho.

Jacksonville then started dropping players. They yanked the team's restricted free-agent contract tender to 2006 third-round draft pick Clint Ingram, leaving him an unrestricted free agent.

"We feel good about the two veteran linebackers (Morrison and Keiaho) and the three undrafted rookies we added over the weekend," team general manager Gene Smith told the Florida Times-Union. "I feel like we strengthened the second level of our defensive front with these moves."

Shortly after acquiring Keiaho, the team released linebackers Brian Iwuh and Tank Daniels. Ironically, Keiaho was the Indianapolis Colts 2006 third-round pick and was drafted 14 spots after Ingram.

--When the Jaguars released veteran defensive tackle John Henderson earlier this week, it reduced the number of players still with the team who were on the Jaguars roster when coach Jack Del Rio was hired prior to the start of the 2003 season, to two -- quarterback David Garrard and center Brad Meester.

In addition, only seven other players remain with Jacksonville who were part of the team's 12-4 club in 2005 that made it to the playoffs but lost to New England in the first round. Those seven include five current starters: LG Vince Manuwai, CB Rashean Mathis, FB Greg Jones, K Josh Scobee and LB Daryl Smith. The other two players, TE Ernest Wilford and DE Reggie Hayward, are currently backups.

--The more information that the Jacksonville fan base is gathering about Tyson Alualu, the team's first-round draft pick, the more he's becoming accepted. When the Cal defensive tackle was announced as the No. 10 pick in the draft, many Jaguars fans sent out seething e-mails to the team and vented their frustration on local radio sports talk shows. The hostility is starting to dissipate as fans learn more about the Hawaiian native.

The Jaguars were expecting a backlash from a portion of their supporters as Alualu was not a known commodity.

"We knew there would be an uproar because it wasn't a sexy pick. But if you start doing that (passing up players a team has highly rated), I don't think you're being true to the city, the organization or yourself," said Terry McDonough, the Jaguars director of player personnel.

"We loved the person, we loved the kid."

The Jaguars had tried to disguise their interest in Alualu by not inviting him to Jacksonville before the draft and not sending anyone to his personal workout in California.

McDonough is convinced that Alualu would have been taken a few picks after the Jaguars selection at No. 10. There was a perception that Jacksonville could have traded down and still have selected Alualu, but that became a moot point when the Jaguars received just one offer for a deal, and it wasn't a serious one.

--The last piece of solving the holes in Jacksonville's defense resulted in the Jaguars bringing in New Orleans free agent Darren Sharper to town on Wednesday and Thursday. The free safety would be a quick-fix solution to the Jaguars needs in the secondary, at a position that Reggie Nelson started 14 games a year ago without producing the results that the team was looking for.

Nelson was replaced in the lineup the final two games of the season by Anthony Smith who isn't the answer to solve the team's needs at that spot. Sharper, 34, could be a short-term cure for that spot. Jacksonville was the first of several NFL cities that Sharper may be visiting in the coming days. He started 14 games with the Super Bowl champion Saints in 2009, but when his contract expired about two months ago and the Saints' offer for a new pact wasn't to his liking, he began shopping his services for more money. The fact that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee recently, will have teams taking a thorough look at him.

Jacksonville worked him out on the field on Wednesday and later put him through an extensive medical exam. The two sides were then to meet to discuss contract terms. Several other NFL teams have also expressed an interest in Sharper who may want to explore those options before making a final decision.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "My first goal is to hurt the quarterback. I don't want to just sack the quarterback, I want to hurt somebody." -- DE Austen Lane, drafted by the Jaguars in the fifth round, on what he brings to the team.


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