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Wright On

Florida Times-Union reporter Michael C. Wright covers the ins and outs of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In this blog, he'll share behind-the-scenes anecdotes not published within the pages of the T-U, in addition to offering up incessant ramblings about nothing such as road trips, crummy hotels and not-so-delicious press box food. Perhaps he'll even delve into serious discussions about NFL issues. So ask questions, participate in conversations, or just learn more about the Jags.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Sharon poised to become a starter

Because of space limitations in today's editions of the Florida Times-Union, we were unable to fit the entire version of this story in the newspaper.

So here it is. Enjoy.

The Times-Union

The phone rings. Charles Sharon picks up.

The voice on the other end is much closer than he expects.

“Come to the door,” his grandmother, Rebecca Boykin, says.

Tap, tap, tap, he usually hears approximately a split-second later.

Impromptu visits from Boykin are common for Sharon, who, as a rookie Jaguar receiver, went from a Palatka-native-does-well story to garnering headlines as an accused thief and illegal gun packer during his first NFL offseason.

But according to Hillsborough County circuit court records, a state attorney on Apr. 20 formally dropped felony weapons charges against Sharon. Tampa police arrested Sharon in March after allegedly finding a Glock 27 handgun that had been stolen last year under the driver's seat of his parked SUV. The incident resulted in charges of grand theft of a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm.

Calls to the state attorney’s office were not immediately returned.

Perhaps even better news to Sharon than resolution of his legal situation is his new status on the Jags’ depth chart. Less than a year ago, he was an unknown local boy fighting for a roster spot during training camp. Now, he’s poised to become a starter or top contributor as the season approaches.

“And I’m still hungry,” Sharon says, laughing.

“Seriously, though, this all has been a real humbling experience for me. I sat down and thought about it all and talked to my grandma. I told her that maybe this was the Lord telling me to get back into his word and to make sure I put all my faith and trust in him. I’m just so excited about the season now. I’m telling you man, they [the Jaguars] can’t get rid of me; I’m not gonna let them.”

They likely won’t, judging from the way Sharon has performed so far this offseason.

During organized team activities on Thursday near Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Sharon had his best practice of the offseason, he said. Despite mistiming a leap on a high pass from Byron Leftwich near the sideline, Sharon came down in bounds after making a fingertip grab.

In fact, he never dropped a pass thrown his way all day during drills.

So could Sharon’s play earn him a situational role for next season? Probably not, says Jaguars receivers coach Todd Monken.

“To me, he’s beyond that,” he said. “The way he’s playing, he’s positioning himself to be a starter. I don’t know how else to put it. He’s at a point now where, ‘I’m competing to be a starter,’ plain and simple. Every day, he’s made plays.”

Originally waived, then brought back as a practice-squad player last season, Sharon dressed for one game (at Buffalo on Nov. 26) as a rookie. He never stepped foot on the field during the regular season after catching two touchdowns in four exhibition games.

The all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdown grabs at Bowling Green, Sharon spent virtually all of his rookie year as a scout teamer.

But Leftwich thinks Sharon has evolved beyond wearing the silly looking orange helmet caps worn by the scout-team players at practice.

“Every day you come out here, you watch this guy make big plays,” Leftwich said. “You normally don’t get that from undrafted free agents. He’s playing his tail off every day. That just shows you how good [James] Shack [Harris] and [the rest of the staff] is at evaluating guys and getting guys that can come in here and play football.”

With the legal drama likely behind him along with a rookie season of disappointing inactivity, Sharon hopes to become the playmaker in games that the coaching staff sees on the practice field every day. In line with NFL requirements, he’s taken four development courses, but could face some type of league discipline under the personal conduct policy.

His grandmother, Rebecca, won’t let Sharon forget how close he came to losing an NFL career that nearly never took off to begin with. To this day, he says, she still lectures him about life off the field, especially after the incident in March.

In addition, she won’t hesitate to make the 63-mile drive from her Palatka home to Jacksonville to emphasize points in person.

“She’ll try to pop up on me sometimes,” Sharon said, laughing again. “I’m like, ‘Hey grandma, how are you doing?’”

“That’s my grandma though; she’s still got my back 100 percent. You’ve got to love her for that.”