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Notes and observations: “A kid on Christmas”

Posted Jan 3, 2018

S Tashaun Gipson on playing first postseason game when Jaguars play Buffalo Bills in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game Sunday at EverBank Field: “You can’t script this type of stuff; you can’t buy this”


JACKSONVILLE – Tashaun Gipson is excited and doesn’t mind saying it.

The Jaguars this week are approaching their first postseason game in a decade in as normal a fashion as possible. That’s the approach of Head Coach Doug Marrone, and players are following.

But in terms of the excitement ….

In terms of the feeling inside …

Well, Gipson – a sixth-year free safety who along with many teammates will make his first NFL playoff appearance Sunday – said he couldn’t help feeling different as the week began.

“I was nervous,” Gipson said Wednesday as the AFC South Champion Jaguars (10-6) prepared to play the Buffalo Bills (9-7) in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at EverBank Field Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

“I woke up Tuesday kind of nervous – with that nervous excitement, kind of like a kid on Christmas. It’s that situation where it’s actually happening after years and years and years … to have this opportunity to actually play in the postseason.”

Tight end Marcedes Lewis is the only current Jaguars player to have played a postseason season game with the team, having played in the team’s two postseason games following the 2007 season.

The Jaguars’ last postseason game was a Divisional Playoff loss at New England in January 2008. The last playoff game at EverBank was the AFC Championship Game in January 2000.

“It’s a long time coming,” Lewis said Wednesday. “It’s exciting to be going into it with this group of guys. I’m just looking forward to it.”

The Jaguars have 11 players with playoff experience, with defensive end Calais Campbell’s nine games the most postseason experience and defensive tackle Malik Jackson’s eight the second most. Gipson is among seven Jaguars defensive starters and 16 overall who never have played a postseason game.

The Jaguars starters with postseason experience: Campbell, Jackson, safety Barry Church, cornerback A.J. Bouye, right tackle Jermey Parnell and Lewis.

“You see it year in and year out,” Gipson said. “You hear the stories, but I’ve never been able to experience it. For me to experience it … it was surreal being out there at practice today. I was talking to my agent on the way over here and it’s like, ‘When’s the last time I’ve practiced in January for a playoff game?’

“You can’t script this type of stuff. You can’t buy this. The joy and the excitement around this city, around this locker room, it’s unmatched. Everybody’s excited and we have one focus: it’s about going out and winning and seeing Pittsburgh next week.”

The Jaguars would play the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Divisional Playoff next weekend with a victory over the Bills Sunday.

Notes and observations from around EverBank Field Wednesday:

*Wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle), linebacker Donald Payne (quadriceps) and Lewis (ankle) all missed practice on Wednesday, with Lewis saying he expected to practice the rest of the week. Rookie left tackle Cam Robinson (quadriceps) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (back) practiced on a limited basis after both missed their first start of the season Sunday against Tennessee. Quarterback Blake Bortles (right wrist) practiced full; Bortles has worked full all season and started all 16 games while being listed on the injury report with the issue. …

*Lee, who has missed the last two weeks with the ankle injury, said he’s “doing as much as I can” to return from high-ankle sprain sustained in a Week 15 victory over Houston at EverBank Field. “I’m ahead of schedule,” Lee said. “If you’re going to ask me if I’m thinking about Sunday and playing, I think I’m playing. I can’t tell you what the coaches and trainers are going to decide.” Lee has caught a team-high 56 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns this season. …

*The Bills finished the season ranked 26th in the NFL in total defense, 29th against the run. The Jaguars lost to the Bills 28-21 in Buffalo on November 28 last season, but that team was coached by Head Coach Rex Ryan – a coach known for complex 3-4 based schemes and multiple looks. The Bills this season run a more straightforward, 4-3-based scheme under Head Coach Sean McDermott and coordinator Leslie Frazier. “It’s obviously a different scheme,” Bortles said. “They play good, sound defense. They do some different things on third downs that confuse you. They have some good pressures we’ll have to pick up and be on point with. I’m sure something different or something someone’s beat us on before, something we haven’t necessarily worked on. We’ll have to be able to make adjustments and pick that stuff up.” …

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