As minicamp opens, Del Rio more hands on

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
The Jaguars' minicamp is underway and we can get a bit of a taste for the tone and what's going on thanks to a transcript of Jack Del Rio's media session.

He was asked about seeming more involved in the defensive drills. That's something that doesn't surprise me. He's got a young new coordinator in Mel Tucker. For a veteran defensive coach coming off a disappointing season and who is expected to turn things around, I'd be more surprised if Del Rio didn't roll up his sleeves and get a bit more involved.

Here is his answer:

"Yeah, I'm going to be directly involved with the defense, not that I haven't been. I pretty much have been during my years here. I probably stepped back a little bit over the last two years. I really wanted Mike Smith to kind of have the opportunity that I know he wanted in terms of becoming a head coach, and obviously did a great job last year, you know, he got the Atlanta job. And then Gregg (Williams) last year, the dynamic was a little different. But I will be heavily involved but coach Tucker is our defensive coordinator. We're going to work hand-in-hand. He's been busy this offseason installing the defenses that we're going to run and that we're going emphasis in 2009. So, I'm looking forward to that."

Del Rio also spoke of a new vibe around the team.

"Yeah, I think there's a real good vibe in our building right now. There's a freshness about what we're doing. New uniforms, new strength coach, there's a totally new weight room -- there's just a freshness about where we are right now as an organization, understanding we've got a mountain of work to do. We understand that, but there's a fresh feel about it right now and it's good. It's a new year with new opportunities. So we're going to take that and get busy."

On the injury front:

  • Linebacker Chad Nkang suffered a calf injury Del Rio didn't make sound serious, but Nkang will be held out and Del Rio said fullback Montell Owens is also out.

  • Four others aren't participating as they continue to work back from injuries that landed them on IR last season: Guard Vince Manuwai (knee), fullback Greg Jones (ankle), cornerback Scott Starks (knee) and defensive end James Wyche (knee).

  • That would suggest other key players who didn't finish last season are back and able to practice: Guard Maurice Williams (biceps), corner Rashean Mathis (knee) and linebacker Daryl Smith (groin).