Today in the World of Sports…
On Saturday, the Jacksonville Jaguars whittled the roster down from 75 players to the league-mandated 53. The surprise cut casualties, in my opinion, included safety Gerald Alexander and defensive tackles Atiyyah Ellison and Walter Curry. With the loss of rookie D’Anthony Smith to injured reserve, I expected either Ellison, a starter in six games last season, or Curry to get the organization’s seal of approval. Instead, the Jaguars will rely on starters Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton and Leger Douzable, Jeremy Mincey and Landon Cohen, who was claimed off waivers from Detroit, in the middle of the defensive line.
With regards to the safety position, it is Jacksonville’s weakest in depth. Currently, Tyron Brackenridge, Sean Considine, Courtney Greene and Anthony Smith are the sole safeties on the roster. A notable name no longer in that grouping is 2007 first-round selection Reggie Nelson. The Jaguars sent the 26-year-old Nelson to the Cincinnati Bengals for cornerback David Jones and an undisclosed draft pick. Last year, Nelson struggled mightily in man coverage and wrapping ball-carriers up for tackles. If only the Bengals had not cut former Jacksonville receiver Matt Jones, Nelson could have hung out with another first-round bust.
Excluding the Jaguars’ last three first-round choices – Alualu, Eugene Monroe and Derrick Harvey, tight end Marcedes Lewis is the only other Jaguar-drafted first-rounder still on the Jacksonville squad.
ESPN talking head John Clayton compiled his yearly ranking of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks. In his elite category, which includes 14 starters, Clayton ranks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees at the top. At No. 20, Jacksonville’s David Garrard is in the “Chad Pennington Division” – essentially, the average guys – ahead of San Francisco 49er Alex Smith and Kansas City Chief Matt Cassel.
About Garrard, Clayton writes, “This might be his final season as the Jags’ starter, but don’t underestimate him. He is a good leader and still has the ability to complete 60 percent of his passes.” This is not a breakthrough revelation by Clayton, and Garrard has thrown 60 percent or better the last four years.
I sat cage-side at my first mixed martial arts event Saturday night at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. On the ticket stubs, it read that the "Art of Fighting 9: Apocalypse" would shoot in – my phrase for “kick off” in MMA – at 6 p.m. It was delayed nearly an hour and four of the scheduled 11 fights were canceled.
Overall, my heart pounded and my knees shook as 260-pound mammoths, including one nicknamed “Polar Bear,” rocked the mat six feet from me. I thought the “fight of the night” was between Tiffany Connell and Jacksonville’s own Angelica Brotherton. After taking dozens of body shots and fighting from disadvantageous positions, Brotherton won her professional debut with an arm bar with one second remaining in round two. My only wish was that advertising had been better because then the crowd of around three thousand would have been tripled.
It did not feel like the opening week of college football. Partly it is due to football powerhouses playing the likes of San Jose State, Miami (Ohio), Western Kentucky and Florida A&M. This is nothing new. It has been going on for decades. For most football fans, myself included, the season will kick off tonight with Boise State and Virginia Tech. Until we reach the bowls, this could easily be the non-conference matchup of the year.
After Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder tossed four touchdowns against Samford on Saturday, he tied former FSU signal-caller Peter Tom Willis with 33 career touchdown passes. In the third quarter of the radio broadcast, play-by-play announcer Gene Deckerhoff made this connection. Considering Willis was not renewed as FSU’s radio color commentator following the 2007 season, nothing else was said about Willis. It is a shame Willis was let go for being “too critical” of the program. I don’t feel like current color guy William Floyd adds the intrigue to broadcasts like Willis once did.
How soon before Florida fans are calling for Urban Meyer’s head?
Richard Miller is the host of “Miller On Sports” weekdays on ABC 1530 WBOB from 1 until 2 p.m. Also, he hosts “Inside the Game” Saturdays from noon until 1 p.m. alongside Darrell Pasquale and NASCAR Andy. Listen live at www.1530wbob.com.
On Sundays, Richard covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for Sporting News Radio. Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2011.