- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
A contract for the Jaguars' top draft pick, tackle Eugene Monroe, has fallen in line quickly on the heels of B.J. Raji's deal with Green Bay Thursday night, reports Michael C. Wright. Monroe's agent is en route to Jacksonville to finalize language on a five-year contract.
I confirmed the report with a source who said Monroe could practice Friday night.
The Jaguars endured an even longer contract dispute with defensive end Derrick Harvey a year ago. Harvey missed all of camp and never caught up.
This time, while dealing with the eighth pick in the draft again, the team had a quality contingency in place.
While Monroe may be in the starting lineup at some point this season, no one with the Jaguars is uncomfortable with the idea of veteran Tra Thomas being in the starting lineup. Thomas and safety Sean Considine, both former Philadelphia Eagles, were the two most notable free-agent additions in the first offseason under general manager Gene Smith.
Thomas was regarded as a better pass protection player than run-blocker in Philly, which led to questions about how he would fit with the Jaguars who will continue to be a run-first team.
"That's what we did," he said of the Eagles' offense. "We would go into a game and pass the ball 50, 60 times. I came from Florida State where we ran no-huddle and I was in a two-point stance the whole game. So I was bred to be a pass-protector, and that's usually what your left tackle is anyway.
"But I'm open to it. I've been working on getting my run game going. [Offensive line coach] Juan Castillo did a lot of work with me in Philly trying to get my run game better so it's good for me to come down here to an actual run team and have a coach that really forces the run."
While Monroe works to catch up, Thomas said he will work on his steps, which can key an improvement in run blocking. He said he doesn't always get his foot down to complete his second step as quickly as he should.
The Jaguars don't open their preseason schedule until Monday night, when they play at Miami.