Jacksonville looks like it is the team of new beginnings this season.
First, Jerry Porter signed on with the Jags. After some rough years at Oakland, he was estatic to join up with the Jags. He even went so far as to tell the press that he had been hoping for the Jaguars to draft him in 2000. We picked up R. Jay Soward instead. Oops. Our bad, Jerry.
His first years at Oakland weren’t so bad. A few playoff wins and a Super Bowl appearance is all a player can ask for, right? Unfortunately, things went down hill for Porter. After clashes with coach Art Shell, Porter spent most of his time on the bench. In street clothes. He eventually cancelled out his contract and went into free agency. The Jaguars picked him up this off season. It was one of many moves as they strive for Superbowl.
How optimistic is Porter about the Jaguars?
He says it’s going to be fun playing football again.
“It was more of a burden [in Oakland],” he said. “It was work rather than play. Most guys look forward to playing on Sunday. [For Porter] it was kind of like there’s another Sunday and I’ve got to do my job.”
Then there is Troy Williamson. I know, I know. Viking fans hate him. Dropped balls, bust, etc etc etc. He apparently dropped one in every ten pass with the Vikings. However, looking to shed his rep as stone handed, Williamson caught over 20,000 balls since the winter of 2007. He’s trying really, really hard. He excelled in mini camp. Hopefully that hard work and performance will transfer into him being a steal for us in the regular season. I am really pulling hard for him to be the comeback player of the year, no joke.
Maybe, just maybe, with the expectation of being the second coming of Randy Moss taken off him he will finally get to be Troy Williamson. And maybe that is what he needed to be the player he can be.
There is still one other player who may be getting a fresh start in Jacksonville. Jerry Potter and Troy Williamson are the obvious big moves in the off season. However, there is another, less talked about player as well. And it wasn’t another wide receiver! Jaguars’ new defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy is absolutely tired of hearing the word bust.
Maybe he has a proper case in defending himself. Kennedy was drafted by the Rams in 2003. With the Rams, he played with three different defensive coorindators. Then he was taken by the Broncos two weeks before camp started.
“What I’ve learned in my career so far is that I can only be Jimmy,” he said. “In the past because I’d had so many coordinators and d-line coaches, what I started to do is forget my game. I tried to play like they wanted me to and give them what they wanted. Meanwhile, I get the label that I can’t perform and make plays when crunch time comes.”
The Jaguars, who are looking to add another tackle to the rotation of John Henderson, Rob Meier, Derek Landri and Tony McDaniel, noticed that he Kennedy wasn’t being used in the right defensive schemes. Defensive line coach Ted Monachino says he is performing well and that he hopes the change of pace will help him revive his career.
That doesn’t keep people from the Jaguars’ message board from talking crap about him. He doesn’t care, though.
“But hey, man, I’m enjoying myself. This is a great opportunity; I’m excited to be here. It’s by far the best character of guys that I’ve been around, the best coaching staff that I’ve been around. I’m excited to be here whether it’s just to be a part of it for preseason or the regular season.”
Don’t worry Jimmy, I think you will do just fine here. I’m rooting for you!
The Jaguars didn’t get a single player elected into the pro-bowl last year. Part of the reason is because they are a small market team and fan voting kept at least Freddy T out. Another reason is because the team functions like a team. All players rely on each other. There is no Brady to Moss dominating the field. There is a Garrard hand off to Fred Taylor, a Garrard throw to Reggie Williams, a Rashean Mathis interception for a touchdown. That is why it is important that the Jaguars see something in these players that other teams did not. Hopefully these guys will fight into the right pieces in the Jaguar team. Maybe that is just what the Jags need to set them on the right path to the Super Bowl. What a wonderful story that would be.