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Friday, October 10, 2003
Edwards making the most of his second chance


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There are fine lines between confidence and arrogance, between disappointment and disenchantment. Receiver Troy Edwards of the Jacksonville Jaguars has spent much of his five tumultuous years in the NFL teetering on and around those lines.

Is he the ultra-talented, record-breaking receiver he was in college at Louisiana Tech? Or is he the moody malcontent who couldn't land a job this summer?

The answer, Edwards concedes, could be a little of both.

"I've been through a lot," Edwards said. "But I think I'm a player. I've just got to go out there and perform."

The Jaguars have spent much of the last six months scouring the football world for journeymen receivers looking for second chances. Donald Hayes didn't make the team. Jermaine Lewis did but got injured. Matt Hatchette is improving. J.J. Stokes is barely hanging on -- in part because of Edwards' recent arrival.

In the two games since he was signed, Edwards has ascended to the starting lineup. He has caught two touchdowns -- one on a one-handed grab that he stretched for an 84-yard score, the other on a pretty fingertip grab in the corner of the end zone.

His 150 receiving yards rank him third on the team, behind Hatchette and Fred Taylor. With Jimmy Smith back, Edwards figures to get more single coverage, meaning maybe a few more catches.

"When you've got a player like that on your team, you just try to get the ball in his hands and see what happens," said quarterback Byron Leftwich, who will start his third career game Sunday against Miami.

If Leftwich keeps getting it to Edwards, it will be even further proof that all he needed was another chance after being cut from the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 31.

Edwards was drafted with the 13th pick by Pittsburgh in 1999. He had a successful rookie year with Pittsburgh (61 catches, five touchdowns), but his production leveled off, partly because the Steelers brought in Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El.

The Rams traded a sixth-round pick to get Edwards before the 2002 season. The way Edwards tells the story, coach Mike Martz promised him a bright future but never gave him the chance.

"If someone beats me out, I don't have a problem with that," Edwards aid. "If someone gives my job away, that's when I have a problem."

It was that kind of confidence, bordering on arrogance, that made Edwards believe he'd get another NFL job.

"I told my agent that I was just going to sit back, relax and spend some time with my kids -- go home and go fishing," Edwards said. "I got tired of teams judging me, saying I had a bad attitude, this and that."

He got his break from the Jaguars, and for now this has the makings of a nice comeback story.

"You've got to remember, I'm still healthy, I'm 26, this is only my fifth year," he said. "I've got a great wife, two great kids, some money in the bank, and already, I've beaten a lot of odds."