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Baltimore Ravens Team Store Pressbox

By Rachael Brandon,

INTRODUCING... R. Jay Soward, the Jaguars' first-round draft pick. Despite boasting arguably the best receiving tandem in the AFC in Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, the Jaguars couldn't resist taking the Southern California star off the board in the first round of April's draft. Soward was a three-year starter and a four-year letterman for the Trojans, the same school that produced Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Keyshawn Johnson.

NFL INSIDER POWER RATINGS Ratings based on analysis of 1999 team and individual statistics, offseason personnel moves and feedback from respected experts (from NFL Insider's Season Preview issue) Rushing offense: 10.0 Passing offense: 9.0 Rushing defense: 9.5 Passing defense: 9.6 Special teams: 8.5 Coaching: 9.3 Intangibles: 9.1 TOTAL: 65.0 Scale of 1-10; Perfect score=70

ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL... Tony Boselli tore his ACL in the season-ending game against the Cincinnati Bengals last season and missed most of training camp in rehab or practicing by himself. He is expected to be back for the season opener. With all the other injuries the Jaguars have suffered on the offensive line, they will not take the risk of rushing Boselli, a four-time Pro Bowl pick who was named to the All-Decade team earlier this season.

IMPACT NEWCOMER... With injuries hampering the offensive line, the Jaguars are crossing their fingers that Brad Meester can make an immediate impact. The former Northern Iowa product is slotted to start at left guard but he could also play center if needed; that where he played in college. Meester is small compared to some offensive lineman at 6-foot-3 and 298, but he's athletic and smart on the field.

DON'T OVERLOOK... Brandon Christenson, a fourth-string tight end, scored one of the weirdest touchdowns in Jaguars history to give Jacksonville a 16-13 preseason win over the New York Giants on Aug. 11.

Giants rookie cornerback Fred Lewis intercepted a Jags pass near the end of the game. Lewis' momentum carried him into the end zone, but he stepped just outside the goal line again. Teammate Jack Golden tried to tackle him, hoping Lewis would go down and essentially end the game, but Golden's hit popped the ball loose and Christenson recovered for the game-winning score.

"It was the most amazing play I've ever been involved in," said Christenson. "It just shows that you should keep playing, keep playing and see what happens. I'll take whatever I can get. I need all the help I can get."

BREAKING THROUGH... Anthony Cesario has to be one of Tom Coughlin's favorite players right now since the lineman is healthy and ready to go. Cesario didn't play a down during his rookie season in 1999, but he spent part of training camp working with the first team at right guard, a position he will likely relinquish now that the club traded for veteran Brenden Stai. He's also Zach Wiegert's backup at right tackle and started the preseason opener at the position.

"One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity," Coughlin said. "If some guys can take advantage of that, we'll be a better football team when we get them all back competing again."

JAGUARS AT A GLANCE Head coach: Tom Coughlin (sixth year with Jacksonville). 1999 record: 14-2 (first year in AFC Central) 1999 rankings: Offense - 7th overall (349.1 yards/game), 2nd run, (130.7), 12th pass (218.4) Defense - 4th overall (270.9 yards/game), 7th run (90.3), 3rd pass (180.6)

KEY COMINGS QB Jamie Martin (Browns) LB Hardy Nickerson (Buccaneers) QB Brenden Stai (Chiefs)

KEY GOINGS RB Tavian Banks OT Ben Coleman (Chargers) QB Jay Fiedler (Dolphins) OT Joe Patton (Chargers) LB Bryce Paup (Vikings) RB James Stewart (Lions) CB Dave Thomas (Giants) G Rich Tylski (Steelers) DE Regan Upshaw (Raiders) TOP DRAFT CHOICES WR R. Jay Soward (1st round) OL Brad Meester (2nd) LB T.J. Slaughter (3rd)

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING... The two-time defending AFC champion Jaguars have 34 new players - 11 draft picks, five undrafted rookies, nine veterans and nine new first-year players. ... Jacksonville?s 14-2 record during 1999 was the best in franchise history and tied for the fourth most wins in NFL history. ... The Jaguars really knew how to wear opponents down last season as the margin by which they outscored foes increased every quarter. In the first quarter, the Jags outscored opponents 61-44; in the second quarter 109-81; in the third quarter 103-40; and in the fourth quarter 123-52.

CAN'T MISS... The Jaguars weren't threatened all that often last season, but the Baltimore Ravens scared them twice. Jacksonville escaped with 6-3 and 30-23 victories. Find out if the Ravens are any better this year when the Jags travel to Baltimore on Sept. 10. The Tennessee Titans were the only team to beat Jacksonville last season, and the Jaguars have to wait until Oct. 16, on Monday Night Football, to get revenge. But nothing would be sweeter for the Jags than to knock off Tennessee in Nashville. And a victory definitely would be worth the wait.

TO BE ANSWERED... Will the running game struggle without James Stewart? A healthy Fred Taylor means everything to the Jaguars offense, but unfortunately, the third-year runner has struggled to combat nagging injuries since entering the league in 1998. Jacksonville had the luxury of turning to Stewart in the past, but those days are over after Stewart signed with the Detroit Lions in the offseason. Stacey Mack and Chris Howard will be on the spot now, especially since Taylor sprained his MCL in the Jags' preseason win over the Giants.

Will the Jaguars offensive line hold up? It was a rough training camp for the O-line. The Jags started camp without Boselli, still recovering from offseason knee surgery, and soon lost Leon Searcy, who had to have surgery for a torn quadriceps tendon. Other linemen, including Joe Chustz (back), Todd Fordham (knee) and Wiegert (elbow) missed varying amounts of practice with nagging injuries. Searcy could still be placed on injured reserve. To ease their pain going into the season, the Jags traded a draft pick to the Chiefs to get Stai.

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