<
>

Jacksonville 16, Minnesota 14

8/10/2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars made their new coach
a winner in his first preseason game.

The Minnesota Vikings -- aside from some slippery hands -- were
fairly happy with their performance, too.

Ike Charlton returned a fumble 97 yards for a first-half
touchdown Saturday night to lead the Jaguars to a 16-14 victory
over the Vikings in Jack Del Rio's first preseason game.

Del Rio, a middle linebacker for Minnesota from 1992-95, was
hired in January to succeed Tom Coughlin as Jacksonville's coach.
He spotted a few of his purple No. 55s in the crowd.

"You know those jerseys are old," Del Rio said. "It was nice
to see some fans out there. I still have a lot of friends here. ...
We know it doesn't count, but it's a lot more fun to go back to
work after a win."

The Vikings, whose 41 turnovers were the second most in the
league last year, fumbled four times -- losing two that led to 10
Jaguars points.

Seth Marler kicked two field goals, and Mark Brunell looked
sharp in some extended time leading Jacksonville's first-team
offense after struggling in an intrasquad scrimmage last week. He
went 10-for-13 for 110 yards and no interceptions, though no
scores, and Jimmy Smith caught five balls for 70 yards.

"I felt comfortable," Brunell said. "I was really hoping to
get something downfield to Jimmy and we did that, but it doesn't
matter if you drive 80 yards if you don't get any points."

Rookie Onterrio Smith rushed 12 times for 33 yards and a
touchdown for the Vikings, elevating himself to second on the depth
chart behind Doug Chapman.

"It'll be exciting next week to watch him work with the first
team," said coach Mike Tice, who was excited that his defense held
the Jaguars to one third-down conversion in 10 attempts.

"We made some great strides defensively," Tice said.

Marler, who leads James Tuthill and Danny Boyd for the place
kicker's job, had field goals of 29 and 43 yards. The second one
put the Jaguars ahead 16-14 with 11:55 remaining.

The Vikings have some kicking-game battles going, too, and
punter Nick Murphy had a 57-yard punt in the first half before
having one blocked in the fourth quarter. Murphy's competitor,
rookie Eddie Johnson, made the highlight reel another way in the
third quarter on an attempted 23-yard field goal by Aaron Elling.

The snap was low, so Johnson -- the holder -- darted for the
corner of the end zone and nearly made it. Smith then plunged in
from the 1 to put Minnesota up 14-13.

The Vikings aren't worried about their passing game, so they
only played Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss two series. Culpepper
connected with No. 2 receiver D'Wayne Bates on a 13-yard touchdown
pass late in the first quarter that put Minnesota ahead 7-0. Moss
caught two passes for 25 yards.

The backfield isn't settled, though, with starter Michael
Bennett out until at least mid-October with a stress fracture in
his foot. Moe Williams will be the short-yardage man, but Chapman,
Smith and Larry Ned are vying to be the featured runner.

"It was good to get out there and, you know, get in a rhythm,"
Smith said.

Chapman rushed four times for 16 yards, and Larry Ned had 18
yards on six carries -- including a crucial fumble near the goal
line late in the second quarter.

On second-and-goal at the 4, Paul Spicer stripped Ned of the
ball at the 3, Charlton picked it up and raced the other way to
give Jacksonville a 10-7 lead.

John Avery fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Vikings' 32 after
Kiwaukee Thomas punched the ball out. Malaefou MacKenzie recovered,
and Boyd -- who earlier missed a 29-yarder -- kicked a 32-yard field
goal as time expired to make it 13-7.

Jaguars starter Fred Taylor was out with a bone bruise, so
rookie LaBrandon Toefield -- a fourth-round draft pick from LSU --
got a lot of work with the first team. He rushed eight times for 33
yards.

Lance Johnstone had two sacks for the Vikings, who lost
cornerback Ken Irvin to a dislocated toe on the first series. He's
expected to be out for a few days.

John Henderson, one of three Jaguars who've been hospitalized
during training camp after succumbing to the heat in practice, had
one of Jacksonville's four sacks.