Checking in from Jaguars' camp (cont.)
New Face, New Place
After making the Pro Bowl seven times in St. Louis, Holt was released in March, setting him on a new path in Jacksonville. While strange not seeing Holt in Rams' blue and gold, he is excited and motivated about the opportunity. He is also aware of the critics writing him off. "It's a new team, a new conference, and you kind of feel like a rookie again," the 33-year-old Holt said. "You feel revived and renewed and that's exciting. And then there's just showing people that I can still play at a high level. There's a lot out there about, 'Do I still have it? I lost this, I lost that.' Ten years into it, who hasn't lost something? In terms of being passionate, the work ethic, the training, concentration, focus, I still have it."
After the Jaguars' receiver purge, Holt immediately becomes the team's No. 1 receiver. And on a team heavy on youth and inexperience, he becomes a No. 1 mentor, too.
Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, taken with the eighth pick in April's draft, is billed as a player who can anchor an offensive line for a decade. But he has to sign a contract first.
The 6-foot-5, 309-pound Monroe remains unsigned and out of camp. "I'm optimistic that we'll get him in shortly, but until it's done, until he's here, we're just going to focus on the guys that are here," Del Rio said. "I know he wants to be here and hopefully it'll get resolved soon." The veteran tackle Tra Thomas has been impressive in Monroe's absence.
Sitting across from Holt in one of the Jaguars meeting rooms, I noticed the mangled middle finger of his left hand. The finger was bent in the shape of an 'L.' It was not in line with the rest of his fingers. It had a mind of its own. "That's my trophy," he said of the finger.
Holt explained that the finger had been beaten up through the years by catching so many balls. Sometimes, the finger joints would pop out and he had to pop them back in. Once, against the Steelers, he tried to pop the joint back in and it simply wouldn't move. So it stayed in the shape of an 'L.'
"It scares little kids, too," he said.
1. Jones-Drew, taking over as the team's primary running back, says he is playing at his rookie season weight of 208 pounds after playing the last few years between 212 and 215 pounds. He believes he will maintain his strength, even at the lighter weight. "I ate a bunch of fish and vegetables and whenever I got hungry I just drank water and I worked out in the prime heat of the day, six days a week," he said.
2. The Jaguars players are growing beards during training camp to foster camaraderie on a team with so many new faces on the roster. "We feel like it's just something to get everybody to buy into the way," Jones-Drew said. "It's camp. You don't have to look pretty."
3. Fullback Greg Jones should see increased touches with the departure of running back Fred Taylor, but he is not a lock to hold onto the No. 2 job behind Jones-Drew. Jones will be pushed by several players, including rookie Rashad Jennings, a seventh-round pick out of Liberty who is fast rising up the position depth chart.
4. The Jaguars will find out quickly in 2009 where they stack up in the AFC South. They play all three division opponents -- Indianapolis, Houston and Tennessee -- in the first four games of the season. The other opponent? The NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals.
5. Del Rio on the team's Twitter policy: "We have no electronic devices of any kind at any point during meetings. So [at] games, all that type of stuff is off limits. If they want to Twitter before they come in here in the morning or when they go home at night, tweet away."
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