JACKSONVILLE – Here’s this week’s Wednesday wrap-up.
On Wednesday mornings during the 2013 regular season, jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser sets the stage for the Jaguars’ Wednesday media access by previewing major topics facing the team. Each Wednesday afternoon/evening, he breaks down what was learned from Jaguars players and coaches that day.
Here’s the wrap-up of Wednesday’s five topics as the Jaguars prepared to play the Tennessee Titans Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville…
1. Is this it for Meester? Jaguars center Brad Meester on Wednesday announced he will retire following the end of the season, his 14th in the NFL. That means Sunday’s game against the Titans will be the last at EverBank Field for the only player to have played for all five Jaguars head coaches – Tom Coughlin, Jack Del Rio, Mel Tucker, Mike Mularkey and Gus Bradley. “The more and more I thought about it, the more I know that it’s time,” Meester said Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to that next chapter of my life and being able to spend some time with my family. I’m going to make these my last two games and retire at the end of the season here.” Said Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley, “It’s just been awesome to have a chance to be with him and to be part of this.”
2. The MoJo watch. Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew missed practice Wednesday, and for a second consecutive week, it appears his status will be a week-long issue. Jones-Drew missed Sunday’s loss to Buffalo with a hamstring injury sustained the week before against the Houston Texans and did not practice last week before missing the Buffalo game. “I’m doing better,” Jones-Drew said. “I’m feeling better than I did last week. So I’ll get out there and run around and see how things go this week and see if I can get out there on Sunday.”
3. Finish strong. The Jaguars won’t be going to the playoffs, and their three-game winning streak – their longest since the 2010 season – is over, too. But Bradley has talked throughout the season about the objective being bigger than winning and losing, and players this week said that remains the case even with the slim postseason hopes officially over. “The points didn’t show it, the scores didn’t show it, but week-in and week-out we felt that we were getting better in practice and games,” Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne said. “We felt we were heading towards the right track and there’s still a lot of room to build, which is great because we’re still a young team.” The Jaguars also still have a chance to finish in second place in the AFC South, and to match the Indianapolis Colts for the best record against the AFC South this season.
4.Put the D back in run D. The Jaguars’ improved run defense was a big reason the team improved as a whole after the bye. They held five consecutive opponents under 100 yards rushing after not doing so in any of the first eight games, and they averaged allowing nearly 90 yards less rushing a game. Bradley said early in the week there were issues creeping in in this area even before the Jaguars allowed 198 yards rushing to the Bills. The team started to get back to doing things right in the second half against the Bills, but overall defensive coordinator Bob Babich said the team must play the run better than it did Sunday. “If you take away the quarterback scrambles on third down, only first and second downs, we had three (rushes of 12-plus yards), so we were very disappointed in that,” Babich said. “We had been playing the run very well.”
5. Who’s up? Who’s down? Jones-Drew and safety Johnathan Cyprien each missed practice Wednesday and appear the major unknowns around the Jaguars in terms of injuries. Cyprien (thigh) said he hopes to play, and Bradley said both Cyprien and Jones-Drew likely won’t practice until Friday. Also Wednesday, wide receiver Jeremy Ebert sustained a lower leg injury shortly before end of practice and was listed as limited on the team’s injury report. Outside linebacker Russell Allen will miss the end of the season with a concussion while defensive tackle Roy Miller could miss practice the rest of the week before likely playing Sunday with a shoulder injury.