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Payne makes seamless return to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive tackle Seth Payne didn't need any help finding his way around Jacksonville or the team's facilities.

His move was an easy transition.

Payne signed with the Jaguars on Saturday, returning to the place where he started his career and giving his former team added depth along the defensive line.

Payne also returned home. The 6-foot-4, 292-pound lineman spent his first five seasons with the Jaguars, bought a house in Jacksonville a few years ago, came back every chance he got during the offseason and planned to retire here with his family.

"We just knew that when we were done playing, this is where we would settle down," Payne said Monday.

But Payne isn't ready for retirement yet.

The 11-year pro could be a vital part of Jacksonville's defensive line rotation this season. With end Paul Spicer slowed by a nagging back injury and second-year pro Tony McDaniel moving outside from tackle to help replace him, Payne could see plenty of playing time behind Marcus Stroud and John Henderson.

It's also yet to be seen whether Stroud has fully recovered from microfracture surgery on his ankle.

"There were places I could have gone and competed for a starting job," Payne said. "Obviously, that's not the case here and that's not a problem for me. I'd rather play five plays on a great defense than 40 plays on a poor defense. I'm just looking to contribute, whether it's special teams, defense, whatever. I just want to get out there and contribute in some way."

Payne left Jacksonville in 2002 after the Houston Texans selected him in the expansion draft. He spent five years in Houston before being released in February.

He missed most of last season after tearing a ligament in his right knee. He injured his left knee in 2003 and needed three operations to get it fully repaired.

Nonetheless, Payne said he had several teams that wanted his services this season.

"We talked a couple of times with the Jaguars. There was mutual interest, but it didn't seem like it was going to work out," said Payne, who has 617 career tackles and 17 1/2 sacks.

Then Spicer got hurt, and the Jaguars suddenly needed help.

"You're talking about a smart, tough veteran football player who's been in the trenches in real games for a number of years and proven that he's got certain abilities," coach Jack Del Rio said. "Right now, he joins our football team and provides us with depth, where we can ensure ourselves of going into the season with strength, and it provides him with an opportunity to rejoin the team that drafted him originally."

Payne signed a one-year contract worth $860,000. The deal includes a $720,000 base salary, a $40,000 signing bonus and a $100,000 bonus if he makes the 53-man roster.

He practiced with his new team for the first time Monday and expects to play Thursday night at Green Bay.

"I'm rusty," he said. "But about halfway through practice, I wasn't even thinking about my knee. I was thinking about getting into football shape; I was thinking more about my legs being tired than my knee, which is a good sign."

Notes: The Jaguars signed G Tutan Reyes on Monday, helping the team cope with three recent injuries along the offensive line. They waived long snapper Brett Goode. ... S Reggie Nelson (ankle), DE Paul Spicer (back), G Chris Naeole (knee), LB Pat Thomas (hamstring), LB Clint Ingram (ankle), DE Jeremy Mincey (quadriceps) and OT Andrew Carnahan (ankle) missed practice Monday. None of them was expected to play against Green Bay. ... QB Quinn Gray (ankle) returned to practice and was expected to see his first preseason action against the Packers.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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