Jaguars see the light _ sort of

Updated: July 31, 2003, 10:02 PM ET

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With the generators whirring and the lights ablaze, the Jacksonville Jaguars moved their training camp to the nighttime.

There was only one problem with this version of Thursday Night Football: The players had trouble seeing.

"I was hoping you guys would bring your cars over here and turn on your headlights," coach Jack Del Rio quipped after a 90-minute practice on a dimly lit field.

The Jaguars scheduled the night practice after two players, Larry Smith and John Henderson, succumbed to heat over the first four days of camp.

On Thursday, stretching began a little before sunset and the thermometer read 78, about 7 degrees cooler than when the players went down.

Del Rio said it was a good practice, despite temporary lights -- installed on Wednesday -- that made it hard to see a lot on the far side of the field.

"I'll lobby to do this a little more," Del Rio said.

Owner Wayne Weaver will likely approve such a request, in part because the crowd was great. The Jaguars drew 2,515 people to their night practice, about 2,000 more than they were drawing to workouts after opening day. Every fan counts this year, as the Jaguars try to reengergize their fan base and boost season ticket sales, which have decreased from 67,000 in 1998 to 54,000 last season.

"That's not where my focus is now," Del Rio said.

His focus is on getting good work out of the players, and he feels he's accomplishing that despite the schedule change -- often a problem in the highly regimented world of football coaches and players.

"It was fun out there," cornerback Fernando Bryant said. "Just kind of hard to see at the end."

Moving practice to nighttime is part of the Jaguars' effort to go above and beyond to protect their players from heat illness and dehydration. Two trips to the hospital in three days were scary, especially with the heat-related death of Vikings lineman Korey Stringer two years ago still in peoples' minds.

Despite the measures, Del Rio said the Jaguars will be prepared to play in the hot weather they'll encounter in September and October, when temperatures in North Florida still commonly reach into the 80s.

"We're in camp," he said. "It's going to be hot, it's going to be sweaty. It was nice to be under the lights. The sun's not scorching everyone. But it's still warm out here. It's a nice change for us."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index