The Jaguars have had a knack in the Jack Del Rio regime for finding undrafted free agent rookies who are good enough to make the team.
They've had seven players make it in his first three seasons and Del Rio gives Gene Smith, the director of college scouting, and his staff all the credit.
"Gene Smith and his staff do a great job of bringing back info. I tell them they feed us our lifeblood. We're count on them. They're out there on the road and they're kind of unsung heroes. They're away from their families and combing the country trying to find us talented players and the right kind of guys that fit our locker room. I just want to compliment them. Smith is as good as there is in the business," Del Rio.
Now the Jaguars think they may have found another diamond in the rough. He's linebacker Brian Iwuh of Colorado.
"Brian Iwuh has really stood out," Del Rio. "He's just making plays everywhere so you can't help but notice him."
Iwuh's also caught the eye of linebacker coach Mark Duffner, who said, "He's impressed me with his ability to learn and retain things. He's got excellent ability and he has quickness and good change of direction."
Iwuh had one tackle in his first preseason game in Miami.
When Iwuh was growing up in Houston dreaming about being an NFL player, he was a Raider fan.
He probably was on the road to being drafted when he pulled a hamstring in the fourth game of his senior year and then pulled it again in the Senior Bowl so he couldn't work out at the scouting combine.
Del Rio said, "He got an injury and he played with it so you don't look quite as good (as he would have playing healthy) and people have questions. He's an undersized guy (6-0 and 235) and all of a sudden there are a lot of questions."
The result was that he was bypassed in the draft, but the Jaguars decided to pursue him and he listened to their sales pitch.
"I thought Jacksonville was a good fit for me," Iwuh said. "When the draft was over, the coaches showed a lot of interest in me, more than other teams. It was a disappointment not to get drafted but everything happens for a reason so I guess that's why it didn't happen. I just have to work harder and prove myself to everybody."
In Iwuh, they found a mature player even though he's only 22. "I've dealt with a lot more personal things than most people," he said.
When he was a freshman in college, his stepfather died. Shortly thereafter, his older brother died suddenly when his lungs collapsed. He was suffering from kidney failure and didn't know it.
"We fought through it and actually became closer as a family," he said of the ordeal he endured with his mother and sister.
After what he's experienced, he can deal with fighting for a roster spot.
"It's easy for me to focus on this. I've dealt with a lot more difficult things," he said.
He doesn't lack self-confidence.
Iwuh said, "I always believe that I can do anything I want to. I always believed after the draft that if I got a shot, I was going to make the team. I believe in myself."
The Jaguars have a starting job open because Akin Ayodele departed for Dallas, but his best chance of making it will probably be on special teams.
--The Jaguars seem to be continuing to phase out veteran running back Fred Taylor.
Even though Greg Jones had only 15 yards in five carries, he got rave reviews again from coach Jack Del Rio, the same way he did after the scrimmage a week ago when he had 19 yards in four carries.
"Greg continues to impress me. Obviously, we didn't play him very long. We know what he can do and what he's about and I continue to be impressed with Greg. We'll find more guys to get him the ball as we get further alone here, but tonight, we didn't spent a lot of time running the ball. We feel pretty good coming out of the first couple of weeks of camp where we are running the ball," he said.
Taylor had 11 yards in three rushes and a 22-yard run with a short pass, but he no longer appears to be the runner the Jaguars are counting on.
--Del Rio isn't noted for his attention to detail as a coach and it showed up again in the preseason opener.
When Del Rio was asked last week about whether he had stressed to his players the new rules cracking down on celebrations, he joked that the Jaguars first had to start getting in the end zone and then they'd worry about celebrations.
He was singing a different tune when both Maurice Drew and George Wrighster got 15-yard penalties for celebrating. Drew listed up his jersey to show a Superman uniform and Wrighster threw the ball. Drew didn't even realize lifting his shirt violated the new rule against using props.
Del Rio was clearly annoyed after the game.
"We've got to do a little better. I told you we wanted to score touchdowns first and then we would worry about educating our guys. One of the things that left me frustrated is that we had two celebration penalties. I'm not happy with it. I told the team I'm not happy with it," he said.
--Last year, wide receiver Cortez Hankton suffered a high ankle sprain in camp and played in only six games in the regular season.
Now the Jaguars are worried if the high ankle sprain suffered by rookie Marcedes Lewis is going to ruin his rookie season. He left Dolphin Stadium on crutches with his right ankle in a boot.
Del Rio said he'll be out at least a week, but he could be out much longer.
--The Jaguars made two roster moves last week, signing offensive lineman Shannon Snell and kicker Seth Marler and cutting wide receiver Felton Huggins and fourth string quarterback Paul Pinegar. Marler, who made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2003, is a stop gap measure because Josh Scobee strained a leg muscle. The Jaguars said Scobee could have kicked if it had been a regular season game, but they didn't want to risk him in a preseason game.
--RB Greg Jones moved closer to taking away Fred Taylor's job as he got good reviews from coach Jack Del Rio even though he had only 15 yards in five carries against Miami.
--TE Marcedes Lewis suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half against Miami and is out indefinitely.
--WR Matt Jones caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Byron Leftwich against the Dolphins.
--WR Chad Owens caught two passes for 86 yards against Miami, including a 62-yard touchdown strike from David Garrard.
--TE George Wrighster caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Quinn Gray.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Greg Jones vs. Fred Taylor at running back. Jones appears to have a shot at winning the starting job from Taylor as he got good reviews from coach Jack Del Rio even though he gained only 15 yards in five carries.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Pat Thomas is leading the battle at outside linebacker as he started against Miami and had seven tackles, including three solo.
--Brad Meester didn't help himself in his battle to retain the starting center job when he got a holding penalty in the first period that killed a drive. Dennis Norman is challenging him for the starting post.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: RB Maurice Drew flashed the explosive running style the Jaguars thought he had when he took a short pass from David Garrard against Miami and turned it into a 55-yard touchdown play. The Jaguars think he can add another dimension to their offense. He also had 16 yards in four carries.
ROOKIE REPORT: First round pick Marcedes Lewis suffered a high ankle sprain against Miami and is out indefinitely.
--Second round pick Maurice Drew took a short pass for a 55-yard touchdown pass against Miami and ran 16 yards in four carries.
--Third round pick LB Clint Ingram suffered a bruised calf against Miami.
--Fifth round pick LB Brent Hawkins flashed against Miami with a tackle and a sack.
--Seventh round pick DL James Wyche had two tackles against Miami.
--Seventh round pick CB Dee Webb had four tackles and a defensed pass against Miami.
INJURY REPORT: TE Marcedes Lewis is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain suffered against Miami.
--LB Clint Ingram suffered a bruised calf against Miami and will miss several days.
--S Nick Sorensen rolled an ankle against Miami, but the Jaguars don't think it's serious.
--S Gerald Sensabaugh missed the Miami game with a sprained ankle and his condition will be updated this week.
--T Mike Williams missed the Miami game with a back ailment, but is supposed to return to practice this week.
--TE Brian Jones missed the Miami game with a knee injury and his condition will be updated this week.
--G Dan Connolly is probably headed to the injured reserve list after having surgery on his finger.
--K Josh Scobee missed the Miami game with a leg strain, but the Jaguars said he could have played in a regular season game.
SCOUTing the Jaguars
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