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Jaguars' goal still finishing strong

Posted Dec 3, 2012

RB Montell Owens could be starter for the Jaguars Sunday: "It's about coming together as a team and finishing the year off strong"

This may or may not be Montell Owens’ time.

If it is, if next week or sometime in the final four games he gets an opportunity to be the featured running back, Owens said that’s fine and he said he’s ready. But he said his approach – and the Jaguars’ approach – won’t change much either way.

Four games remain.

And whatever the record, whatever the situation, winning still must be the objective.

“Our main concern is not about who’s out there, or who’s doing what,” Owens said Monday, a day after the Jaguars’ 34-18 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.

“It’s about coming together as a team, and finishing the year off strong.”

Such was the mood around the Jaguars Monday.

“Next week’s a new week,” defensive end Jason Babin said.

“We’ve got the right guys in here,” Jaguars center Brad Meester said. “When we were going through the tough stretch, this locker room stayed focused the entire time. That’s what we’re going to continue to do. These last four games are very important for us. It’s key for us to keep doing well and keep improving for next year.”

No, the game in Buffalo Sunday didn’t go as the Jaguars hoped, and yes, a lot of the things that had gone wrong all season went wrong as they slipped to 2-10 through 12 games.

“There were a lot of ‘too manys’ that were negatives against us that didn't help us in that game,” Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said.

But the Jaguars had felt they had some momentum coming off the last two games, and despite an unexpectedly one-sided loss in Buffalo, the objective Monday remained to get that feeling back.

“We have to go back to the drawing board, and continue to get better,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said.

“We’ve got 28 days, and we have however many practices and however many games to get better,” safety Dwight Lowery said. “If you’re not here to get better, you will not get better. If you are here to get better and you commit to that, you will. That will take you into next season.”

Mularkey said he spoke to the team Monday with much the same message he had Sunday, that the performance Sunday wasn’t nearly good enough in a lot of areas – and that too many of the things that have hurt the Jaguars all season occurred again Sunday.

The Jaguars were outrushed 242-50 by the Bills, who scored 27 points on five consecutive possessions to turn a 10-7 deficit into a 34-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Jaguars also were penalized eight times for 74 yards, converted just 1 of 10 third downs and had four dropped passes. Mularkey also said once the game’s momentum turned – with a long kickoff return by Buffalo that came with the Jaguars leading 10-7 – the Jaguars didn’t do enough to regain control of the game.

“Even the guys we are playing with right now, I think we can play better,” Mularkey said. “That’s the guys who have been starters since the beginning of the season. That’s the guy who just came to our roster last week. Nothing has changed. I’d like to finish the season strong for this year.

“That’s the message. That’s not going to change.”

Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said the final month of the season is about being a professional.

“It’s as simple as that,” Posluszny said. “It’s, ‘Be professional. Do your job. Continue to work for improvement.’ You see this happen with other teams. It’s so easy to quit on the season and say, ‘I just want to get through this.’ That’s not going to be the case with us.

“There is too good of a group of guys when it comes to their character for that to happen. We’re going to be professionals. We’re going to stay dedicated to the job, and even though when it comes to our record we’re in a bad situation, we will stay the course.”

The Jaguars, who snapped a seven-game losing streak with a victory over Tennessee at EverBank Field last week, had improved offensively in the two games leading to Buffalo. Quarterback Chad Henne had passed for six touchdowns in two games, and the Jaguars registered their two highest point totals of the season.

On Sunday, with Henne completing 18 of 41 passes for 201 yards on a windy, rainy day, the Jaguars’ running game – which has struggled in the absence of three-time Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew in recent weeks – produced just 50 yards on 18 carries.

Owens led the team with 29 yards on seven carries, and with Jones-Drew still uncertain with a foot sprain and backup Rashad Jennings leaving Sunday with a concussion, Owens and rookie Richard Murphy and Jordan Todman are the team’s lone remaining healthy running backs.

Mularkey said Jones-Drew is very questionable entering the week, and as of Monday, Owens is the starting running back with Murphy and Todman also available.

“We’ve got to create those holes for whoever’s back there,” Meester said. “We’ve got such a great group of guys back there it doesn’t matter who’s back there. They do a great job running the ball. Our key is we have to create the holes. If we create the holes for them, they’ll find it. That’s the important thing.”

However the Jaguars approach the specifics of the running game, the player who may take a bigger role in that area beginning Sunday said it’s important to remain focused on the bigger picture.

“We’re an ascending team,” Owens said. “Even though our record doesn’t indicate it, we know in this locker room and within these walls we are an ascending team, and we’re looking forward to finishing the year off strong.”

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