Eugene Monroe Signs Deal, Dominates in First Drills at Jaguars' Practice

Jack HarverCorrespondent IIAugust 14, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MAY 1:  Tackle Eugene Monroe #75 of the Jacksonville Jaguars sets for play May 1, 2009 at a team minicamp near Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

After 13 days spent waiting on contract negotiations with the Jaguars, Eugene Monroe was ready to shake off the rust and play football.

"I got off the plane, signed, and went to practice," he told CBS Sports contributor Jim Nasella.

The contract Jacksonville offered Monroe, their first-round pick in April's draft, amounts to $35.4 million (including $19 million guaranteed) over five years, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

No sooner was Monroe under contract than he began preparing for Jacksonville's evening training camp session, showing up less than an hour after the start of practice.

The Jaguars wasted no time in welcoming their newest teammate.

Monroe was pitted against camp standout Julius Williams, a promising rookie pass-rusher, man-to-man in his first Oklahoma drill. Thrown into his first action of the preseason, Monroe beat Williams in two of three tries.

After the second try, Monroe took some ribbing about his contract situation.

"Hey Eugene," veteran Reggie Hayward yelled, "I heard they washed your pants with money."

Having dealt with Williams, Monroe's second Oklahoma opponent was defensive end Derrick Harvey, Jacksonville's first-round pick from a year ago and, like Williams, one of the stars of camp thus far.

In this confrontation between the 2009 draft's consensus best pass-protector and the 2008 draft's consensus best pass-rusher, Monroe stonewalled Harvey twice.

Two tough matchups, two decisive wins. Not a bad showing for his first practice.

For Monroe, considered one of the best athletes among the offensive linemen in this year's draft, the Oklahoma drill was an ideal way to get his feet wet in Jacksonville's training camp.

One-on-one between the pads, he showcased his individual technique and talent—not an extensive grasp of the Jaguars' offense, or the chemistry he has yet to develop with the other linemen. That raw potential is all that's kept veteran Tra Thomas from running away with the left tackle job in Monroe's absence.

Going forward, Monroe faces an uphill battle to challenge Thomas for that starting role after missing nearly half a month of practice.

He has youth on his side, and the right skill set to face NFL defensive ends right away. But he'll need to take to Jacksonville's line calls and playbook like a fish to water over the next month to be a better option than Thomas for protecting David Garrard's blind side.

According to general manager Gene Smith, Monroe could play in the Jaguars' preseason opener at Miami. How he works with the rest of the offense, more than any one-on-one practice victories, will determine his place on the depth chart.