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Originally published August 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 17, 2007 at 9:07 PM

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Former Husky Williams faces career crisis with Jags

Reggie Williams started all but one game as a rookie in 2004. The former Washington Huskies receiver started 14 of 16 games last season...

The Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Reggie Williams started all but one game as a rookie in 2004. The former Washington Huskies receiver started 14 of 16 games last season, but he is sliding down the Jaguars' depth chart.

It looks as if Williams might be on his way out of Jacksonville.

The former first-round choice, who was the ninth player drafted three years ago, was listed as the No. 5 receiver on the team's depth chart released Tuesday.

It was an indication the Jaguars have nearly given up on Williams.

"You can't surround any quarterback with inconsistency," first-year receivers coach Todd Monken said. "You can't have guys just running around, dropping balls, not at the right depth. The first thing here is getting guys that are consistent. I've never been around any passing game that's worth a damn if you can't be in the right spot all the time and catch it.

"It seems so simple, but somehow it hasn't been simple. It should be that simple: play your [butt] off, get in the right spot, catch the thing and we'll go from there. But for some reason, that's been hard."

The Jaguars ranked 24th in the league in passing last season, when Williams had a career-high 52 receptions for 616 yards (an 11.8 average) and made four of his five career touchdown catches.

Part of the team's problem was that quarterback Byron Leftwich missed 10 games with a broken ankle, but perhaps a bigger concern was the play of Williams, Matt Jones — a first-round pick in 2005 — and Ernest Wilford.

The trio struggled trying to pick up the slack after Jimmy Smith's abrupt retirement. They combined to catch 129 passes for 1,783 yards and 10 touchdowns, but also seemingly dropped countless passes and contributed to the team losing twice to division rival Houston.

The Jaguars responded in the offseason by signing free agent Dennis Northcutt to a five-year, $17 million contract that included a $4.5 million signing bonus. The team also drafted speedy receivers Mike Walker in the third round and John Broussard in the seventh.

Williams, 24, sounds unfazed by the changes.

"I don't see it as competition," said the graduate of Lakes High School in Lakewood. "I look at it as trying to be the best Reggie can be. As long as I do that, I'll be where I need to be. As long as I work on me and I'm on top of my game, everything will weed out for itself."

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But the weeding-out part might come at Williams' expense.

Monken talked about his receivers for 15 minutes and said little about Williams.

He praised Northcutt and fellow starter Wilford, who suffered what the team called a minor knee sprain in practice Tuesday. Monken added that Charles Sharon was in the mix with the first-team offense and said the 6-foot-6 Jones had found his niche as a slot receiver.

Monken did mention Williams was one of the team's best at running after the catch. But will that be enough to keep him on the roster?

"You're trying to fit all the pieces in the right holes," Monken said. "Is that easy? No, but it's the way to become the most efficient. ... If they don't fit some role, I don't know how you keep them. Where do you play them? Where's their spot?"

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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