Jaguars get key contributions from 3 newcomers
The Jacksonville Jaguars gave Aaron Kampman, Kassim Osgood and Tyson Alualu nearly $31 million in guaranteed money this year.
After one game, the Jaguars are already seeing a return on their investment.
Kampman, Osgood and Alualu - three of the team's top newcomers in 2010 - turned in three of the team's top performances in Sunday's 24-17 win over Denver.
Kampman had nine tackles, six quarterback pressures and was involved in two sacks. Osgood caught a 24-yard touchdown pass that turned out to be the game-winner. And Alualu disrupted Denver's run game and recorded a sack in his NFL debut.
''I thought it was great for our football team that some of the guys we feel like we'll be able to count on stepped up right away and showed that they're gonna be those kind of guys for us,'' coach Jack Del Rio said Monday.
Kampman, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end during his eight seasons in Green Bay, played his best game in nearly two years.
Playing nine months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Kampman was on the field for nearly every one of Denver's 61 plays. He sacked Kyle Orton on the opening possession, stalling the drive and knocking the Broncos out of field-goal range. He got Orton again in the third quarter, ending another drive.
''Kampman's a monster off the edge and brings leadership, savvy,'' tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ''He's going to help the younger guys grow and give them an understanding of what's expected on the defensive line and how hungry you have to be to make those plays.''
Osgood, a special teams ace who made the Pro Bowl in three of the last four seasons, left San Diego in hopes of finding a bigger role in Jacksonville. The Jaguars obliged, getting him on the field for several plays in the opener. David Garrard even hooked up with Osgood in the fourth quarter.
Osgood dropped to his knees to celebrate his first TD reception in six years and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Del Rio questioned the call, but also acknowledged that it was the correct under the rules.
''That's a rule that's intended to eliminate showboating,'' Del Rio said. ''That was just sure exuberance, joyful celebration, no mocking, no taunting, but he went to the ground. You can't go to the ground. It's the rule. It was enforced properly, however, I would like to see a commonsense application.''
Coaches and teammates joked about Osgood's penalty Monday, telling him to ''act like he's been there before,'' he said.
''I'm just trying to concentrate now on finding out when I can get another touchdown,'' said Osgood, who also helped down a punt at the 4-yard line. ''I'm already moving on to how I can in the end zone again. Hopefully, it's only a couple-day wait.''
The Jaguars waited nearly a week to get Alualu in training camp following a holdout, then another two weeks for him to return from a calf injury in the preseason.
The missed time hasn't slowed him down. Alualu, the 10th overall pick in April's NFL draft, had three tackles and a sack. He also clogged up the middle, helping the Jaguars hold Denver to 3.6 yards a carry.
''He gets better every game,'' Lewis said. ''He's a powerful guy, stout in there.''
Kampman and Alualu have raised the bar for the defense, which had a league-low 14 sacks last season.
''We feel like we've fortified our defensive front, that we're gonna be better up front, and that will allow to be much better defensively,'' Del Rio said. ''We expect to be.''
Del Rio also expects more solid performances from the team's newcomers.
The Jaguars have been hoping for similar outings for years. But they never got much from first-round draft picks Matt Jones, Reggie Williams and Reggie Nelson, or notable free agents Hugh Douglas, Stockar McDougle, Jerry Porter, Drayton Florence, Torry Holt and Tra Thomas.
So far, this year looks different.
''It's a good thing,'' Lewis said.