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Fighting to the end

Posted Dec 28, 2011

Posluszny: 'We want to finish the season on a high note'

Even without history and statistics, Paul Posluszny said the incentives are plenty.

Posluszny, the Jaguars’ veteran middle linebacker, said although running back Maurice Jones-Drew can make history Sunday – and although the defense has statistical incentives of its own – without any of those things the motivation would be equally strong.

There’s a regular-season game left to be played, and he and his teammates are professional football players. Really, Posluszny said, nothing more is needed.

“We want to finish out the season on a high note,” Posluszny said as the Jaguars (4-11) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (2-13) at EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville in the 2011 regular-season finale Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Jaguars, since a 17-3 victory over the Colts in mid-November, have lost five of six games, partly because of a slew of late-season injuries.

Still, through the injuries, a defense that ranked in the Top 5 in the NFL through much of the season has remained there, and Jones-Drew – a Pro Bowl selection each of the past two seasons – has remained the NFL’s most-consistent, most-productive player at his position.

Jones-Drew currently leads the NFL in rushing by 128 yards over LeSean McCoy, meaning the chances are very good that the six-year veteran who made his third consecutive Pro Bowl Tuesday will become the first player in the franchise’s 17-year history to win a rushing, passing or receiving title.

Jones-Drew throughout the final weeks of the season has said the rushing title means little, primarily because of the Jaguars’ record. He said on Wednesday that remains true.

“I want to win,” Jones-Drew said. “We all want to win. That will probably be something later down in life when I’m like 80 years old, eight-pack and sitting on the beach – I could tell people that one day I won the rushing title.

“That would be something for then, but obviously right now it’s about winning games and trying to get this organization back to where it was.”

Jones-Drew, who also needs 136 yards rushing Sunday to break Fred Taylor’s 2003 franchise single-season rushing record of 1,572 yards, said beating the Colts is more than motivation enough. The Jaguars never have swept the Colts in nine previous seasons in the AFC South.

“A chance for us to go out and play well against the Colts and have an opportunity to beat them twice in a season would be huge,” Jones-Drew said, adding, “We have a lot of stuff to work and play for.”

Added Posluszny, “That would be a great thing for us to accomplish.”

The Jaguars’ defense last season ranked 28th in the NFL in yards allowed. Defensive players set a goal of finishing in the Top 10 before the season, and said Wednesday while the record somewhat diminishes the accomplishment, it remains important to finish strong.

“It’s a great accomplishment in terms of where the defense was the previous couple of years,” nickelback Drew Coleman said. “That’s a huge step and I’m glad we took tremendous strides. I love being a Top 5 defense.

“I look at it different, and it would mean more if things were different, but it’s a great accomplishment and we worked our tails off. We did a great job from the time we started to get to this point, so you want to finish that.”

Also around the Jaguars Wednesday:

*Jones-Drew said Taylor texted him Wednesday, challenging Jones-Drew to break the franchise single-season rushing record. “I have to accept his challenge and do the best I can,” he said.

*As he did Tuesday upon being named to a third consecutive Pro Bowl, Jones-Drew Wednesday expressed disappointment none of his linemen or blockers were so honored. Not since 2002 has a back won a rushing title and not had a lineman or blocker named to the Pro Bowl. “The running game is just not one person, it’s all 11 guys doing their job,” Jones-Drew said. “I wish some other guys in this locker room would get a chance to feel what it’s like to go. They deserve it. We’ve been going against nine and 10-man boxes game after game this year and we’re still able to move the ball well and obviously be at the top of the league in rushing right now. Hopefully I can do my job and get these guys some more recognition.”

*Posluszny called Jones-Drew, “the best running back in the league right now.” Jones-Drew has rushed for at least 84 yards in 14 of 15 games this season despite often running against defenses stacking nine or 10 players at the line of scrimmage to defend the run. “No one is playing at the level he is at in the situation he’s in,” Posluszny said. “He’s running the ball extremely well and extremely hard.”

*No player from the Jaguars’ defense was named to the Pro Bowl, something Posluzny said was disappointing, but not surprising. “To make the Pro Bowl, you have to win,” Posluszny said. “You have to be in the playoffs. So, that’s something we’ll look for for next year. You have to be on a successful team overall, especially when it comes to your defense. We were obviously disappointed, but that’s part of the deal. It is what it is. There’s nothing we can do about it except go out and play to the best of our abilities.” Said Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker, “We talked from day one defensively that it’s not about the individual accolades, that’s not what we’re in it for. If we do get some at the end then that’s a bonus, and we didn’t get that bonus but that doesn’t take away from what we’ve accomplished in that room and then what we’re looking at getting done this week.”

*Jones-Drew did not practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury, but he is expected to start Sunday. He has rolled the ankle in each of the last two games, but returned to play each time.

*Fullback Greg Jones (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis, as did tight end Marcedes Lewis (hamstring), safety Dwight Lowery (shoulder), wide receiver Cecil Shorts (hamstring), defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (not injury related) and offensive tackle Guy Whimper (knee). Cornerback Kevin Rutland was listed on the injury report with a calf injury, but practiced full.

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