Jaguars Coach Del Rio on Monroe's Holdout: "The Team's Moving On"
"I'm glad you should ask," he began.
What followed was a concise and confident appraisal of the holdout situation from the team's point of view—and, maybe, an indirect message to Monroe and his representation.
"We don't have anything to report other than he's not here," Del Rio said, "and the team's moving on. We're working the guys that are here."
Asked to compare Monroe's contract situation to Derrick Harvey's 33-day holdout last year, Del Rio acknowledged some similarities.
"Obviously, the slot [they were] taken in [and] the fact that it's a whole lot of money...and then seeing last year what the absence did to the player."
"The biggest thing," he stressed, "is that the best thing for the player to do is be here, because this team's moving on and there's a lot of good work being put in."
Del Rio emphasized the agent's role in prolonging contract negotiations generally.
"It's a lot of money—one way or another, it's going to be a lot of money—but I think the player may suffer the most in the whole deal," he said. "Quite often [for] the agents, there's a different motivating force for them."
"Hopefully [a deal] will get done, both sides will be happy, and we'll get to work. But, meanwhile, we're just going to carry on without him."
The optimism that has characterized Jacksonville's offseason thus far showed through when Del Rio was asked about two pivotal players on defense.
"I think Derrick [Harvey] is off to a good start in camp," he said. "He's been committed throughout the spring in terms of conditioning his body, and he's out here working with a purpose right now."
After a disappointing first season in the NFL, in which Harvey managed a team-high 29 hurries but only 3.5 sacks, the Jaguars' 2008 first-round pick has bulked up in order to anchor better against run blocks. Harvey's development as an every-down defensive end will be crucial to Jacksonville's defensive success in 2009 and beyond.
"We're going to need our [defensive] front to come on," Del Rio said. "We've got a lot of questions. We're going to need them to work, but they're approaching the work in the right way."
Del Rio's enthusiasm was evident when discussing rookie cornerback Derek Cox.
"The encouraging thing about him is he's long and he's quick," he said. "Even when he's not doing things, technique-wise, the way we're going to get him to do it, he's still able to [deflect] balls and show that he is going to be a physical player."
"He is intelligent," Del Rio continued. "The refinement of technique is going to take some time, but a long, athletic guy that can run is something we love having."
Cox, a third-rounder for whom Jacksonville dealt next year's second-round pick, has hit the ground running in the Jaguars' offseason activities. As a rookie expected to contribute this season and assume a starting role in the near future, he's emblematic of the youth movement taking place on Jacksonville's roster.
Monroe, of course, has an important role in that movement. But, judging from Del Rio's tone and message, the Jaguars are still making progress without him.
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