JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Brady takes on mentoring role


Published: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
JACKSONVILLE - When Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith retired in May, Kyle Brady realized one thing: He had become the oldest player on the team.
After three days of training camp, he feels like it, too.
"My recovery isn't quite the same as it used to be," Brady said Monday.
The soft-spoken, 34-year-old tight end might be nearing the end of his career, but he's still playing a pivotal role for Jacksonville. Not only does he remain a starter, but he has become the primary mentor for first-round draft pick Marcedes Lewis.
"I've always been open to that, to share the few things that maybe I've learned through all these years," Brady said. "But I typically allow the younger guy to initiate it because they've got to want my help. I'm not going to force anybody to listen to me."
Lewis wants every bit of advice from the 12th-year pro and former first-round draft pick.
"He's a great dude and he's taking me under his wing," said Lewis, the 28th overall selection. "I'm trying to be a sponge and soak up every little thing I can."
Brady has plenty to offer. He has 329 career receptions for 3,412 yards and 23 touchdowns. He has battled injuries as well as some of the best pass-rushers in the league. He has postseason experience. He has handled the ups and downs that came with being the ninth overall pick by the New York Jets in 1995 and then getting labeled a bust after failing to meet lofty expectations.
Nowadays, his lone goals are to nurture Lewis and relish what could be his final season.
"At this point in my career, I just want to enjoy the experience," said Brady, who is in the final year of his contract. "It's hard work and sometimes it's frustrating when you make mistakes here and there. But I want to have the overall attitude of enjoyment, not knowing how many times I've got left to go out there."
The Jaguars paid Brady a $400,000 roster bonus in March, then drafted Lewis a month later as his eventual replacement.
Lewis has been impressive in a handful of practices, and even Brady acknowledged that the time will come when the rookie replaces him atop the depth chart.
"Those are decisions I leave to people in control," Brady said. "As a player, that's the way you have the most peace and enjoy what you're doing to most. Just play the best you can with what you have and leave all those decisions up to the bosses."
Considered one of the better run-blocking tight ends in the league, Brady said he hasn't decided whether he will play beyond this season. The Penn State graduate always hoped to spend 10 years in the league and that "anything after that is gravy or icing on the cake."
"I feel like I've had a nice run, an enjoyable career, a blessed career as far as avoiding major injuries," he said. "I'm sure I'm going to miss it one day. With that in mind, I'm trying to really focus on enjoying this."
"You want to still feel like you're competing at a decent level when you leave. When you play a long time, you hope they're not going to slam the door on you as you're still trying to beat it back down."

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