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tiggerpolice 08-17-2005 09:09 AM

Left guards face heavy competition
Left guards face heavy competition
Former starters Holland, Jacox competing for single position
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
By Jeff Patterson
Staff writer
Seriously, Kendyl Jacox and Montrae Holland have each other's back.

There's no backstabbing or bickering over who will start at left guard for the Saints. Whenever Jacox, a 6-foot-2, 325-pounder, is on the field, Holland (6-2, 322) is on the sideline taking notes. And Jacox does the same when Holland is lined up.

If one of the left guards is having trouble picking up the rush, the other will point out the mistake.

"We talk about how to correct each other," Jacox said.

While both have impressed Saints coach Jim Haslett thus far into camp, Jacox is the front-runner to start when New Orleans opens the season Sept. 11 at Carolina. The competition for the spot has helped both guards raise the level of their play.

"This is probably the best (Jacox has) played since being here," Haslett said. "We'll see how it plays out in the next couple of weeks."

Both guards starterd for the Saints last season, Jacox at left guard and Holland at right guard. Their jobs were safe heading into the offseason. But then came a couple of large and bulky additions to the right side of the line.

Enter Jermane Mayberry, a former Pro Bowl right guard from the Philadelphia Eagles. The 6-4, 325-pounder was one of the Saints' chief free-agent targets.

Then came rookie Jammal Brown, an earth-moving right tackle from Oklahoma. Brown (6-6, 313) displayed his power in last Friday's preseason game against Seattle.

That's led to the battle for left guard.

"I think any time you have competition, it makes you much better," Jacox said. "I think it has been good for both of us."

Both players said they are lighter than last season.

Jacox, an eight-year veteran out of Kansas State, started 13 games at left guard last season. He has started 40 of 41 games playing for New Orleans.

Holland, a three-year veteran out of Florida State, started 13 games at right guard last season. He has started 20 of 29 games with the Saints.

"In the long run, it'll help us," Jacox said.

Battling for a starting position isn't anything new for these two.

"I've been in competition ever since I've been in college," Holland said. "You can't ever rest."

Even though the difference in talent isn't that much, the person who loses the battle will play far less this fall.

"It definitely helps out with the depth when the next guy can come in (and contribute)," Jacox said. "Depth is very important because injury is a possibility in this game."

Both players said the battle hasn't had any real impact on them.

"Of course, we are going to be boys," Holland said. "This is the way the game is. You can't let it affect your personal relationships."

Instead of being bitter over losing his starting job at right guard to Mayberry, Holland said he was glad to have another highly touted player to bolster the line.

"I learned a lot from Jermane," Holland said. "He's been to the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl. It's a blessing for me to soak it all up."

Plus, they all share a common goal.

"All we care about is getting stronger as a unit," Jacox said. "We want to protect No. 2 and No. 26."

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