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Harvey's holdout, injuries stretching Jaguars thin at DE

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Saddled with the NFL's only unsigned first-round pick and a spate of injuries, the Jacksonville Jaguars seem to have a problem at defensive end.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said Monday the position is a work in progress, but he doesn't consider defensive end a major issue.

"No, it's not desperate," Del Rio said. "The guys who are here are working hard and doing a good job. We're just going to work the guys who are here. We'll plug in the guys that we have available and keep rolling."

The Jaguars, who opened their preseason with a 20-17 victory over Atlanta, have scrambled as first-round pick Derrick Harvey from Florida remains out of camp and starter Reggie Hayward has a hamstring injury. For the second straight year, James Wyche (torn Achilles) is out for the season and Jeremy Mincey has missed all of camp with a wrist injury.

The other starter, Paul Spicer, second-round pick Quentin Groves, rookie Alex Boston and third-year player Kenny Pettway are healthy and playing. Pettway had his first career start against the Falcons and responded with three tackles.

"We have a history around here that when things come up we don't blink," Del Rio said. "We fill the holes and move forward. That's what we'll continue to do."

Harvey's holdout hit its 17th day Monday. His agent, Ken Kremer, and the Jaguars spoke during the weekend for the first time in more than a week.

In response to the holdout and injuries, the Jaguars signed Mkristo Bruce at the start of camp and Saturday signed veteran Bo Schobel to replace Wyche.

Del Rio was particularly encouraged by the play of Groves and Bruce against Atlanta. Groves had three tackles, an assist and a half sack and included in his night was a one-armed throw down of Falcons running back Jerious Norwood.

He also was called offsides on one play.

"I like what I'm seeing," Del Rio said of Groves, the 52nd pick overall from Auburn. "He does some things naturally that you can't coach, and he is willing to do some of the dirty work it takes to have an impact on the team.

Atlanta offensive tackle Sam Baker also noticed Groves.

"He's definitely a good player," Baker said. "You can tell he's going to be pretty successful."

"There's a lot I can improve on," said Groves, who was brought in as a pass rusher. "I wasn't nervous at first but I was nervous on the first pass play. That's why I jumped offside, I was so anxious to get to the quarterback.

As for manhandling Norwood, the 6-foot-3, 259-pound Groves said it wasn't that difficult. Norwood is 5-foot-11, 202 pounds.

"I read the play and saw Jerious come out of the backfield and I was the only guy," Groves said. "It was just us. The tunnel just came in and all the eyes were on just him and me and I said, 'Lord please don't let him shake me.' He tried to cut back, I reached in and grabbed him. I knew he was light, he went down with ease."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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