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Open locker room: Jaguars morale remains high

Posted Nov 6, 2013

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Chad Henne: “We’re still competing and we definitely want that taste of a win. If we do get that first win, maybe they’ll come in bunches.”

JACKSONVILLE – The focus now must be on the task at hand.

That’s a simple approach, but Jaguars players said Wednesday afternoon that’s the approach to which they must return as preparations begin for the second half of the season.

Not the recent distractions. Not the recent bye week.

Not who’s not playing.

And not even the team’s record through eight games.

“Hopefully, we got our rest and time away,” quarterback Chad Henne said Wednesday as the Jaguars (0-8) prepared to play the Tennessee Titans (4-4) at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Now, it’s a new season. We’ll try to treat it one game at a time and hopefully, we’ll start out with a win.”

Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said while some teams with similar records might be down or disillusioned, he has seen no signs of that with this team.

“The morale is up,” Jones-Drew said. “We feel like we did some great things two weeks ago (in a loss to San Francisco). We just couldn’t capitalize. …

“I’ve been on teams that were 8-8 and you come in after a loss and guys are moping around. That’s not how it is here. We understand where we are and what we have to do. No one’s backing down from that challenge.”

Henne agreed that morale and attitude remains positive despite the record.

“I’ve said since I got here (before the 2012 season), ‘These guys have a great attitude each and every day,’’’ Henne said. “No matter the situation, everybody comes out to practice, practices hard, fights to the end and has good energy out there on the practice field.”

The Jaguars lost to the 49ers, 42-10, and lost the previous week, 24-6, to the San Diego Chargers. Those losses came after two consecutive games – losses in St. Louis and Denver – in which players and coaches felt overall the team had played better than at the beginning of the season.

The feeling after the 49ers and Chargers losses was opposite, and players said Sunday a major task is to get back to the feeling of improvement felt early in the season.

And, of course, to win.

“It’d be awesome,” Jones-Drew said. “Where we are now, it makes you respect wins more … Things happen for a reason. Obviously, going 0-8 happened. We have to go play the Titans and do whatever we can to get the right results.”

Wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the team’s most-productive offensive player through eight games, won’t play again this season, having been suspended indefinitely on the Friday of last week’s bye week. Coaches and players discussed that topic Monday, and as preparations began Wednesday for Tennessee, players said the focus was on the future.

“The guys are still hungry,” Henne said. “We have eight games left. You can go 8-8 or you can go the other way and go 0-8. If you do go 8-8, there is that possibility you can sneak into the playoffs. I’m not saying we’re looking that far ahead, but – one game at a time. If we can take care of what we need to take care of, who knows what can happen?”

Coaches spent much of last week in “self-scout” mode, analyzing offense, defense and special teams in a more detailed manner than is possible on a normal game week.

“I think it’s definitely a fresh start,” Henne said. “We looked at what we did well and what we did poorly. We’ll try to correct what we did poorly and come out with a new attitude and try to win some games.

“Getting better, that’s our mindset, but we’re still competing and we definitely want that taste of a win. If we do get that first win, maybe they’ll come in bunches.”

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