Jaguars bench former first-rounder Harvey in favor of Mincey

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Derrick Harvey's production never matched his potential.

So after 39 games, 32 starts and a meager six sacks, the Jacksonville Jaguars finally decided to bench the former first-round draft pick.

Harvey, the eighth overall pick from Florida in 2008, started 26 consecutive games for the Jaguars (3-4). He moved from the right side to the left side this offseason, and coach Jack Del Rio even tried to lower expectations for the defensive MVP of the 2006 Bowl Championship Series title game.

But nothing Del Rio said or did made a difference. The final blow came last Sunday at Kansas City, when Harvey took the wrong angle on a running play. His miscue opened a huge hole for Thomas Jones, who scampered 70 yards to set up the Chiefs' first touchdown.

"It's not that anybody in that group can't fight his way back into a more prominent role," said Del Rio, adding that the move was defensive line coach Joe Cullen's call. "He just felt like it was the right thing. I said, 'If you feel that way about it, then go with it.'"

Another third-year pro from Florida, Jeremy Mincey, will replace Harvey for Sunday's game at Dallas (1-5). It will be Mincey's first career start.

"It means a lot," said Mincey, a sixth-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2006. "Everything I do, I do it with a passion. I come to work, I'm passionate about my job. I'm passionate about getting better. Hopefully, I can get to where I leave a legacy in this league as well as any other player. That's my goal, that's my dream, that's what I work on every day."

The Jaguars gave up two third-round picks and a fourth-round selection to swap first-round choices with the Baltimore Ravens and draft Harvey. The Ravens chose franchise quarterback Joe Flacco with the 18th pick.

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Harvey signed a five-year, $33.4 million contract that included $17.4 million guaranteed after a 33-day holdout in training camp.

Harvey intercepted a pass in his NFL debut, but he hasn't done much since. He has 126 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two passes deflected and no forced fumbles.

In 233 snaps this season, Harvey has 22 tackles and half a sack.

"I love the guys I have and do the best I can to coach the heck out of them and squeeze what I can out of them," Del Rio said. "If you're not maximizing what you have to give, you leave the door open for somebody else to get some time at your position."

Mincey has 18 tackles, one sack and three passes deflected in 132 snaps this season. He probably would have received a shot sooner in his career, but he was hampered by a broken left wrist in 2007 and 2008 and a broken right hand last season.

"Jeremy's a hard-charging guy," Del Rio said. "He does bring energy and effort and desire. He's got a little talent. He looks to maximize it ever play."

Cullen said Harvey was upset with the benching, and the coach expects it to motivate the player to work harder down the road.

"To me, it's a deciding moment in anybody's career when (they lose) their starting job," Cullen said. "There's two things you can do: You can fight and get it back, or ... the guy that I think Derrick Harvey is, he's going to fight to get it back."

Cullen wasn't even sure Harvey would be active against the Cowboys. Cullen said Harvey would vie with rookies Larry Hart, Austen Lane and Aaron Morgan for playing time.

Cullen also hinted than Harvey must want to improve before he can.

"I don't quit on anybody," Cullen said. "I know there's something in there that I've got to get out of him. Go back to the drawing board. It starts with you've got to want to do it and then have the willingness to continue to learn and continue to develop."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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