Thursday, June 11, 2009

Not Just Another Day at OTAs

For the first time in nearly a month, I visited the Jaguars OTAs (Organized Team Activities) Thursday.

Why the long absence?  For a while, I was on vacation, then I was (and am) out of a job.

So today, I stopped by practice and acted like I was employed.  First, I must thank my colleagues in the Jacksonville sports media, who have, without exception, been supportive of me since word got out of my predicament.

Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette put it well today I think that anyone could find themselves in the same situation in this economic climate

But enough about me.

What about the practice?  How do the Jags look, you ask.

Let's put it this way: Clint Ingram conducted a press conference without a shirt on and that wasn't the most notable thing at practice today!

John Henderson was.  Or more pointedly, what Henderson didn't do.

As expected, Big John was limited in the amount of work he did today...he has a Grade 2 separation if his shoulder, and much to the dismay of the head coach, Henderson has things throttled back.  

In the heat of the day, with heat indeces in the triple digits, Henderson was laboring when he was working.  At one point it looked like Big John was going to keel over.

Then came Strength and Conditioning coach Luke Richesson, who was set to work Big Hen in some wind sprints.  After a couple of sets, Henderson walked over to the covered area of the practice fields, disappeared from my view and didn't return.

Richesson called Henderson back to run, but it was clear that Big John was through for the day.  Score: veteran defensive tackle 1 new strength coach 0.

But these things have a way of turning around in a hurry.  While Henderson didn't work the rest if the day, I have to think that the Big Hen vs..  Del Rio and Richesson is far from over.  Maybe he is upset about the way Del Rio called him out.  Maybe he was just hot and tired.  What ever the reason, I have a feeling that we'll hear more about this saga the rest of the off-season and maybe into training camp.

Practice Notes: The Jaguars announced that they had cut cornerback Will James and tight end Charles Davis.  James did not play well last year with the team.  Davis was a developmental tight end who I'll remember most as a judge for the 2009 Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championships (along with David Garrard, Greg Estandia and former Jag Kyle Brady)...Seems like those moves are going to pave the way for some rookies to sign contracts.  I would expect more cuts over the next couple of weeks...Vince Manuwai worked out on the bike and on the side with head trainer Mike Ryan.  His knee seems to be responding but he's dealing with some gout in his foot.  That has limited him.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Just Can't Fall in Love

Maybe it's just me...maybe I'm distracted by, you know, trying to get another job.

But here I am, able to stay up past 10 o'clock at night for the first time in eight years and I find myself more entranced by Deadliest Catch than the NBA Finals.

I know, it's Kobe against Orlando. What's not to like, right?

But I just can't fall in love with this NBA Finals.

In fact, if Orlando wasn't in the Finals, I'm not sure I would even flip back and forth between Sig Hanson landing big numbers of opilio crabs in the Bering Sea. As I'm writing this on the couch during the second quarter, my wife grabbed the remote to switch over to the 10 o'clock news on Channel 4. AND I LET HER!

I'll admit that since being moved from an afternoon show on the radio (for those of you who remember, the Mac Attack on AM 600 The BALL) to the mornings on WOKV, I haven't watch as many sporting events on TV. It just wasn't possible with that 4 am alarm looming. But now, here I am with all the time in the world and I just can't get going about the NBA Finals.

It would be a great story if Orlando were to shock the world and win the title, but it just isn't that compelling. Kobe is a big personality. He's a star. But Orlando? Can you pick Orlando star Dwight Howard out of a lineup?

If the finals had turned out to be Kobe's Lakers against LeBron James and the Cavaliers ,then there is something I could get into. But instead, it's Kobe having his way in the Magic Kingdom.

By the way, Tom Wills is still really good on the anchor desk. I gotta get that remote back from the wife.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weekend BBQ Tip

Each weekend, I'm going to post a BBQ tip here to (hopefully) make your summer more tasty.

This tip comes from a conversation that I had with a listener recently who was telling me all about his technique for ribs.

He told me that he wraps his ribs in foil for the entire 5-6 hours that he smokes/cooks them.

Buzzers should be going off about now.

Here's your BBQ tip #1: Ribs (or anything else really) can't get the smokey flavor from the smoke unless the smoke is hitting the meat! Okay, that sounds obvious. But here's the second part to this tip: after about two hours, the meat is basically saturated with the smoke. There is a limit to how much smoke you can get into ribs.

So, here's one of the techniques I use, feel free to use it the next time you do ribs.

Marinade or brine first. Choose your favorite marinade, just know that the point to marinading ribs is partly about putting a subtle flavor into the meat, but its mostly about breaking down the connective tissue. If I am using an acidic marinade, like lemonade or something vinegar based, I'll marinade for a shorter time (maybe 3-4 hours) vs. something that is less acidic (which I may let sit overnight).

Make sure whatever kind of wood or chips you are going to use for smoking are well saturated. If you are using store bought chips, submerging them in water for 3-4 hours will be plenty.

Then you have your smoke. After two hours or so, you can wrap the ribs in foil to get a steaming effect so they'll be super-tender, but remember, you don't want them to totally fall off the bone. You want them to need a little tug to come off. That's the perfect rib.

I'll have another BBQ tip next weekend and I'll have more on the sports scene during the week.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Henderson Responds

John Henderson's response to Jack Del Rio's harangue seems rather mature. I'm not saying that Henderson isn't mature...he's 30 years old now and has played in the NFL for eight years.

He should be mature. Then again, I've know a lot of 30 year olds both in and out of football who wouldn't have handled things the way Henderson did.

I'm playing amateur psychologist here, but it seems to me that the shoulder injury is legit (Henderson said it was a grade 2 separation) and that Henderson realizes that Del Rio was trying to make a point--not just to Big John, but to everybody on the team.

If you watch the video (you can check it out on, Henderson doesn't come off as a guy who is fuming over a snub from the head coach or who took it personally that he was called out in public.

Instead, he sounds like a guy who gets it. He realizes that he hasn't been as dominant a player the past two seasons and with Time's Winged Chariot approaching, the number of years in his prime are dwindling.

Henderson has dealt with a lot on and off the field over the past two seasons, and maybe some of those distractions are still there, but if the Jaguars are going to have a big turnaround from their 5-11 season, they'll need Henderson to return to his former Pro Bowl form.

Maybe, they just need to get Henderson back to his old pre-game ritual:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jaguars Bring Back McCree

Just a little Jaguars new today. The Jaguars have signed Marlon McCree. You may remember him from his days here in 2001 and 2002.

McCree is an interesting player. When he came out of college (the Jags drafted him in the 7th round from Kentucky), McCree was a very athletic safety, and he even played some corner in nickel and dime packages.

McCree has been around. After he was cut in 2003, he wound up where all former Jaguars went in those days, to the Texans. He's been with Carolina, San Diego and Denver since.

Perhaps his most memorable moment came in San Diego in 2007 when the Chargers were on the doorstep of beating the Patriots in the playoffs. McCree intercepted a Tom Brady pass and that would likely have sealed the game, but he tried to make a return out of it and fumbled. New England got the ball back, tied up the game and then won it in overtime.

The Chargers let him go six weeks later. McCree can be a physical player. Here's a big hit on Indy's Reggie Wayne to enjoy.

How does McCree fit into the Jaguars plans? I don't know that he can be a starter, but I do think it shows where Jack Del Rio's confidence is with the safeties. During mini-camp, Del Rio said that the experiment with Brian Williams at safety was over, so that leaves Reggie Nelson, free agent addition Sean Considine and now, McCree as the only experienced safeties, and from what I saw in mini-camp, I'm not sure if Considine is an every down safety. I think right now, the safety position is one that has some serious question marks going into training camp.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Picture of the Day

Today's picture of the day is not pretty. That's me on the left along with Patrick Kavanaugh and Brent Martineau of CBS-47. We were down (along with Ch. 4 sports photographer and producer Matt Kingston) at the Daytona International Speedway to race against Daytona 500 Champ Matt Kenseth in GoKarts.
Matt Kingston got through the prelims and finished a respecatble 4th overall.
These three yahoos to the left did not.
Ever notice how much better skinny guys look in jumpsuits than fat guys? Yeah, me too. I'm thinking of keeping the helmet for weekend wear.

Del Rio Calls Out Henderson

Well, we have our first official salvo in the "This Training Camp Isn't Going To Be Like Last Year" storyline that I expect we'll have for quite some time.

Jack Del Rio went out of his way to call out John Henderson after Tuesday's OTA's (organized team practice to you and me, Russ.)

"John has a shoulder that, back when I played, nobody would’ve missed a snap. Lombardi might be rolling over. It’s disappointing to see him pull himself out. I’m not going to worry about somebody who’s pulled himself out of a drill."

But that wasn't all. Del Rio went on to say, "You can’t lead and act that way. Everybody has to determine their own tolerance for pain. Frankly, it’s embarrassing for me to even be talking about it."

So in one fell swoop, Del Rio has done a number of things:
  1. Called out Henderson in an attempt to motivate him
  2. Put all the veterans on notice that his expectations are different than last year when the veterans could take off a day here or there in training camp with nary a bat of an eye.
  3. Served notice that the leadership on the team must be earned everyday.
  4. Let the fans know (through the media) that he understands that the soft training camp of 2008 was one of the reasons for a poor season and he's not going to stand by and do nothing about it.

Del Rio knows how this will play. It wasn't done on accident. Was he steamed about Henderson's "Veteran's Shoulder?" Sure. But he also took advantage of an opportunity to make a statement to his team, to his coaches and to the fans about what HIS expectations are for this off-season and the 2009 season to come.