JACKSONVILLE – Here’s this week’s Wednesday primer.
Each Wednesday morning during the 2013 regular season, jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser sets the stage for the Jaguars’ media access that day by previewing major topics facing the team. Each Wednesday afternoon/evening, he will break down what was learned from Jaguars players and coaches that day.
Here’s a look at five key Wednesday topics as the Jaguars prepare for the Cleveland Browns …
1.Can it continue? The Jaguars have won two of three games since a Week Nine bye, playing their best three games of the season over the last three games. They have done it with an improving defense and a special teams unit that has played well all season. They also ran better last week than they had all season and scored enough points to support the best defensive effort of the season. The Jaguars haven’t won back-to-back games since 2010 and haven’t won three consecutive road games since 2007. With statistics that notable, they will be a topic Wednesday.
2.Can the Jaguars protect Chad Henne? Henne, the starting quarterback in the Jaguars’ last six games, will start again Sunday and protecting him will be a huge issue. Henne had his best game of the season in the victory over Houston Sunday, and did so under enormous pressure from the Texans’ pass rush. He was sacked four times and hit as he threw on several more occasions, still managing to complete 23 of 32 passes without an interception. The Browns’ defense has 31 sacks, and it doesn’t have the dominant pass-rushing presence of Texans end J.J. Watt, but keeping Henne clean will be a priority this week.
3.What’s MoJo’s role? Running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for a season-high 84 yards against Houston, helping the Jaguars to a season-high 118 yards rushing as a team. Head Coach Gus Bradley on Monday lauded Jones-Drew for his willingness to take fewer carries, and Jones-Drew indeed came closer to splitting carries than usually has been the case in his Jaguars career. Jones-Drew rushed 16 times Sunday, with Jordan Todman rushing 11. Jones-Drew, who also had 60 yards receiving against Houston, hasn’t discussed the reduced workload. He likely will be asked about the topic Wednesday.
4.Will Mike Brown be ready? Mike Brown, the Jaguars’ first-year wide receiver, missed the Houston game with an AC joint (shoulder) injury. Rookie Ace Sanders started in his place, and Kerry Taylor got more snaps than any receiver except Cecil Shorts III, but ideally the Jaguars want Brown starting opposite Shorts with Sanders in the slot. Bradley on Monday said Brown should play Sunday, and he said cornerback Will Blackmon also should play after missing Sunday with an AC joint injury. Defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder) and linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) are expected to play Sunday, but could miss practice Wednesday, so their status will be an issue Wednesday.
5.What about the cold? The Jaguars are from the South. Cleveland is in the North and the high temperature there Sunday is expected to be 38 degrees. Any time an NFL team from the South plays in temperatures below 40, it’s pretty much a week-long topic. That won’t be any different this week.