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Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Will Porter or Williamson pan out like Jimmy Smith?

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Jerry PorterTroy Williamson
PorterWilliamson

Jacksonville vice president of player personnel James "Shack" Harris knows that Jerry Porter was on the market because the Raiders weren't going to pursue their own free agent and Troy Williamson was available for a sixth-round pick because Minnesota was done with him.

But all around the league teams are counting on fresh starts to revive players who had been well regarded before their clubs decided to go a different direction. And it's easy for Harris to point to his own team's history for an example of a successful reclamation project at the same position.

"Jimmy Smith came here the same way," Harris told me Tuesday afternoon. "So in this league you get players [like that], you just try to coach them up and get the best out of them. We think they are two players that can help us, and we're excited to have them. They've both worked well since they've been here."

Smith was a second-round choice by Dallas in 1992 but endured a broken leg as a rookie and missed his second year due to complications from an emergency appendectomy. The Cowboys cut him in 1994. He was picked up and cut by Philadelphia and had at least two unsuccessful tryouts elsewhere before the expansion Jaguars signed him in 1995.

He retired in 2006 with 862 catches, good for 10th all-time, and 12,287 career receiving yards, which put him 13th on the all-time list.

Neither Porter nor Williamson has endured anything like Smith did, and it's doubtful either will provide a comeback story as impressive. But each has to like the idea of becoming a good get for the Jaguars, just like Smith was.