Forgotten Man?

Special teams is the third phase of the game of football that rarely receives credit when things go right, and absolves much of the blame when there is a breakdown. There are hardly any special teams players currently found with a bust in Canton, Ohio and the best special teams player in the NFL changing teams was little more than a footnote in free agency.

When Kassim Osgood, whom many consider to be the best special teams player in the NFL, changed teams in free agency, the move was met with all the fanfare of a fullback gaining two yards on a third and one in the second quarter of a preseason game. Still, the Jaguars are more than happy to have Osgood on their team and they hope he will energize both their fledgling return and coverage games.

"We want to get more tackles inside the 20 on kickoff returns," Jaguars special teams coordinator Russ Pernell said when asked what his team needs to work on. "We want to have more explosive returns," Pernell added.

Although Osgood is the name that most people know around the league thanks to his three Pro Bowl selections, the Jaguars have a pretty good coverage man who will now play opposite the former San Diego Charger in Montell Owens. Owens has been the Jaguars best special teams player since his arrival as an undrafted rookie back in 2006.

"Montell may run a 4.6 on the stop watch but he's running 4.4 when it comes to covering a kickoff or a punt," Pernell explained.

Although Montell maintains that his only goal is to win football games, there is somewhat of a chip on his shoulder regarding the in-house competition between he and Kassim Osgood. Owens even has a bet with Osgood as to who will make the first special teams tackle.

"I don't care who wins the bet," Russ Pernell said jokingly. "Why don't both of you hit him at the same time?"

"It's extremely competitive," Montell Owens said of the special teams competition between the two underrated stars. "Obviously Kassim (Osgood) is a great addition. I was extremely happy this offseason."

Osgood has been the AFC's selection for a special teams specialist in the Pro Bowl each of the last few seasons and last year Owens received some accolades as he was selected as an alternate. Although the Pro Bowl isn't Owens primary goal, he would like to earn a trip to Hawaii.

"Well, you always want to win; you play to win," Owens said of the friendly competition between he and Osgood for a Pro Bowl selection. "That really means just winning ball games for us. Again, when the team wins ball games then some guys will start getting some recognition."

The Jaguars spent much of their offseason improving their lackluster pass defense and they should see results from those moves this fall. With the signings of Kassim Osgood and Freddy Keiaho, the selections of Scotty McGee and Deji Karim, and the return of a very motivated Montell Owens the Jaguars hope to put their offense and defense in much better field position than a year ago.


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