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JAGUARS NOTEBOOK;Shula still loves the game

FOX Sports VITO STELLINO, Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)
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Mike Shula has seen the downside of the coaching profession.

After the 1999 season, when Tampa Bay made the NFC title game, the team owners ordered coach Tony Dungy to fire Shula, who was the offensive coordinator. Dungy did it, but later said he should have quit instead.

After the 2006 season, Shula was fired as Alabama's coach after going 6-6 following a 10-2 season. Some of the players Shula brought in helped Nick Saban win the national title last year.

Still, those setbacks didn't diminish Shula's enthusiasm for coaching.

Shula held his first news conference in his fourth season as Jaguars quarterbacks coach Thursday and explained why he stayed in coaching.

"It's a great challenge, plus I don't know what else I would know what to do. I grew up loving the challenge of the Xs and Os, competing in a team sport and being around guys that have the same goals you have," he said.

Shula was 7 and 8 when his father, Don, won back-to-back Super Bowls for the Miami Dolphins during 1972 and 1973 seasons.

"As I was getting older, I was kind of like Luke [Del Rio, coach Jack Del Rio's son]. I was Luke. I was in the training room all the time. I was helping the equipment guys out. I was in the locker room all the time for all those pregame speeches and halftime speeches and postgame speeches," Shula said.

Of Dungy being forced to fire him in Tampa Bay, Shula said, "I've got a lot of respect for coach Dungy. He's a good friend of mine. I just wish we would have done some things better where we would've never put him in that situation."

Of being fired at Alabama, he said, "You realize you gotta go win. There's a lot of different reasons why you don't win. Sometimes, things you can't control. I know it's fun watching the guys we had as babies, as freshmen and sophomores, that grew up and helped them go win a national championship."

Although Shula has had a taste of being a head coach, he seems to be content remaining an assistant.

"As long as I'm around quarterbacks," Shula said. "You're right in the middle of all the big decisions, and you're coaching a guy where all eyes are on him."

Shula said he enjoys coaching Jaguars quarterback David Garrard.

"Dave is great. He takes coaching well, and not just takes it well, but then tries to apply it. His main thing is, 'How can I get better? Help me to get better,' " Shula said.

KARIM BACK

Deji Karim, who suffered a thumb injury when he fell on it with the ball in his hand in the second preseason game, is expected to play Sunday after sitting out six weeks.

Drafted to be the team's kick returner, he is trying not to get too excited about finally getting a chance in Buffalo.

"When I do think about the game, it's 'Wow, it's about to happen.' But I'm keeping myself on an even keel," he said.

Tiquan Underwood has done a solid job of filling in for Karim as a kick returner.

WAITING FOR AN INTERCEPTION

Cornerback Rashean Mathis doesn't have an interception this season, mainly because teams are targeting David Jones on the other side. Colts receiver Reggie Wayne caught 15 passes against Jones last Sunday.

"It's going to come,'' Mathis said. "I'm having faith I will get my fair share [of interceptions]."

Mathis said he might get more action Sunday in Buffalo because the Bills move their top receiver, Lee Evans, around instead of leaving him on the same side, the way the Colts do with Wayne.

"I am sure I will get a few balls," Mathis said.

Mathis said the veterans also have to school the rookies on the fact that the Jaguars can't afford a letdown coming off the Colts game.

"We can't go up there and lay an egg," he said.

INJURY REPORT

As expected, running back Maurice Jones-Drew returned to full practice Thursday after sitting out with an ankle injury. The Jaguars like to rest Jones-Drew on Wednesdays.

Safety Sean Considine (hamstring), running back Rashad Jennings (shoulder) and guard Justin Smiley (ankle) remained limited for the second consecutive day. Linebacker Justin Durant (ankle) didn't practice after being limited Wednesday.

vito.stellino@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4279

Tagged: Colts, Jaguars, Rashean Mathis, David Jones, Deji Karim

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