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Sunday, May 2, 2010
Jags add tennis balls to footballs

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – David Garrard talked about the extra work he’s putting in to try to be the sort of quarterback owner Wayne Weaver and coach Jack Del Rio said early in the offseason he hasn’t been.

"I think any time any man is challenged it's going to bring something out of you," Garrard said. "It should. If another man is going to challenge you, and you are really a man, then you're going to rise to the occasion. I want to be better. I want to be greater."

Here’s a news story on his session with the press.

I thought the most offbeat element of his comments were also the most interesting.

In addition to football, he’s been throwing tennis balls to his receivers.
"We have been doing some tennis ball drills that we have learned that help you with eye hand coordination and really focusing in on a smaller object because when the object is smaller you are going to catch a football so much bigger and easier. We are just doing little things and just doing more to be better. If you want to be great you have to do extra. You can’t do what’s required of you and the Jaguars are being relentless in that area. We are really taking it the extra mile on doing stuff. You are seeing more guys stay after practice on the jugs machine, coming out early and staying late. If you really want to be great and win a championship you really have to do those things.”

(Can you share some more about the tennis ball drills) “You stand on one leg, one eye open, catching the ball as they come to you. Turning around, catching the ball over your shoulder, catching the balls off the wall, juggling off the wall, really just concentrating because a tennis ball is so much smaller.”

(Are you catching them?) “No. I’m throwing to them and making a game of it. See who can catch the most on one leg with their right hand. Make it competitive.”

Prompted to name the best tennis ball catching wide receiver on the team, he singled out second-year man Jarett Dillard.

I applaud coaches and teams that come up with unique ways to work on specific skills. No matter how superbly focused guys are, they can get bored as things get monotonous.

Just as long as the first big drop of the Jaguars season isn’t explained by a guy saying, “The ball was so big and it wasn’t neon yellow, so I just couldn’t pull it in.”