Redskins receiver Jacobs feels like odd man out

Last Spurrier link low on depth chart

August 04, 2006|By DON MARKUS | DON MARKUS,SUN REPORTER

Ashburn, Va. -- He is the last link to Steve Spurrier's two-year reign of error, the only former Florida Gator left on the training camp roster of the Washington Redskins.

With 30 catches for 315 yards and only one touchdown in his three-year career, Taylor Jacobs will likely have to do something extraordinary in the next month simply to be here for the start of the 2006 season.

Jacobs, a second-round draft pick in 2003, prior to Spurrier's final season in Washington, knows that the odds have grown considerably longer with the influx of talent at wide receiver. With newcomers Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd trying to join Pro Bowler Santana Moss in the starting lineup, Jacobs' competition for one of the last two roster spots at wide-out will come from journeymen James Thrash and David Patten and a collection of little-known free agents.

"I guess it's all or nothing right now," Jacobs said after a practice earlier this week at Redskins Park.

The competition continues with today's practice and tomorrow's noon scrimmage against the Ravens at FedEx Field.

"I just have to find somewhere in myself to boost my own confidence," said Jacobs, 25. "Since I've been here, things just haven't worked out for me. I've had some hard times, I've had some decent times when I played well on special teams. I know I've got talent. I'm not second-guessing myself. I'm just trying to get the ball rolling."

Jacobs came out of Florida ranked eighth all-time in receptions (133) and ninth in career receiving yards (2,097), and was the Southeastern Conference's top receiver his senior year. His most memorable performance came as a junior when Jacobs was named Most Valuable Player of the 2002 Orange Bowl, catching 10 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns against Maryland.

But he knew that his association with Spurrier would not be a guarantee for success, since quarterbacks Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews, as well as wide receiver Chris Doering, were among a handful of ex-Gators who failed to bring the magic of The Swamp to Washington.

Jacobs said that he doesn't know what has gone wrong. Injuries have certainly played a part, including a tear in his pancreas that resulted in a short hospital stay at the end of his rookie preseason and a sprained toe suffered in last year's scrimmage against the Ravens.

Though he had some flashes the past two seasons that evoked memories of his days at Florida, Jacobs has struggled in the old-school offense coach Joe Gibbs has used since coming out of retirement. Jacobs is hoping that the more wide-open offense brought in by new offensive coordinator Al Saunders will help.

Quarterback Mark Brunell believes Jacobs is too talented not to make it in the NFL, even if it's not with the Redskins.

"He's got great ability, he's got speed, strength, he runs great routes and can catch," said Brunell. "The only thing that Taylor lacks is just a lot of time on the field. If and when he gets on the field, he's going to have quite a career."

Jacobs would like to remain in Washington, but he knows that the investment the Redskins have made in Randle El, coming off a spectacular performance for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, and Lloyd, who arrived in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers, will make him at best a fourth option.

"When they bring in so many guys, it's like, `Where do I fit in?' " Jacobs said. "How much confidence do they really have? All last year, all this offseason, I got tired of hearing this [stuff] about Santana being the only [receiver] out there. That's not right. People don't know what the game plan was."

Harry Jacobs, who recently retired after 21 seasons as head coach at FAMU High School in Tallahassee, Fla., where he coached his son, said by telephone yesterday, "He feels he's as good as Moss -- given the opportunity. His confidence level is there, but there is some frustration."

NOTES: Last night's two-hour practice was cut short by a little over an hour because of dangerous weather in the area ... Patten, who was hospitalized earlier this week because of viral meningitis, was released from the hospital yesterday and is expected to rejoin the team today.

don.markus@baltsun.com

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