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Notes and observations: “We hear what they’re saying”

Posted Dec 27, 2017

Senior writer John Oehser’s notes and observations Wednesday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Tennessee Titans in the 2017 regular-season finale Sunday…


JACKSONVILLE -- The Jaguars will play to win, and free safety Tashaun Gipson likes that.

Gipson on Wednesday made a couple of points as the Jaguars prepared to play the 2017 regular-season finale. One: he is fine with the Jaguars playing starters Sunday despite having clinched the AFC South and their playoff seeding.

Another: Sunday’s opponent makes winning important.

“Our main objective is going out here and winning the game,” Gipson said Wednesday as the AFC South champion Jaguars (10-5) prepared to play the runner-up Tennessee Titans (8-7) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday. “We know when we win the game what comes with that.

“What comes with that is us continuing to play football and them sitting at the house watching us.”

Gipson and several Jaguars teammates on Wednesday discussed comments made earlier in the week by Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who told Nashville journalist Paul Kuharsky “We’re going to sweep the division other than losing to Houston.”

The Titans beat the Jaguars in Week 2, the Jaguars’ only AFC South loss of the season.

“They [the Jaguars] won’t even technically beat us and win the division,” Casey said. “They’re supposed to be King of the South and we’re ready to see that.”

The Jaguars clinched the South this past Sunday when the Titans lost their third consecutive game, this one to the Los Angeles Rams in Nashville. The Titans can make the postseason as a wild-card entrant with a victory over the Jaguars or if the Bills and Chargers both lose.

“We remember what happened in September,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye said. “We hear what they’re saying.”

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson said a motivation for the Jaguars Sunday is to “kick” the Titans out of the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The Jaguars beat the Titans, 38-17, on Christmas Eve last December to eliminate Tennessee from postseason contention.

“As a team that won the South, for a team to say they own the South is disrespectful,” Jackson said. “We won it. We did enough to do that. We have to go out and make sure that we make them know we own the South by beating them. That’s the only way we can do it.”

Gipson, for his part, left no doubt he believes the Jaguars worthy division champions.

“I don’t know how you can call yourself King of the South when you don’t have a T-Shirt and a hat,” Gipson said. “Everyone knows what they’ve seen. It doesn’t matter what you did years ago. It’s about what you’re doing right now. We’re Kings of the South because we’re hoisting the T-Shirts and the hats. That’s fine. They can feel that way.” …

Head Coach Doug Marrone has made clear to media and players the Jaguars will play to win Sunday’s regular-season finale despite being locked into the AFC’s No. 3 seed.

If the Titans win Sunday and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals, the Titans will visit Jacksonville in the first round of the playoffs. If the Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins all win Sunday, the Titans also would make the postseason and visit the Jaguars in the first round.

Notes and observations from around EverBank Field Wednesday:

*The Jaguars held a walkthrough practice Wednesday, with the team announcing the following injury estimations: Full – quarterback Blake Bortles (right wrist); limited – linebacker Blair Brown (concussion), linebacker Lerentee McCray (knee), left tackle Cam Robinson (abdomen), wide receiver Keelan Cole (quadriceps), wide receiver Allen Hurns (ankle) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (ankle); out – wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (back). …

*Bortles said gaining consistency in the run game is a priority entering the postseason. The Jaguars rank first in the NFL in rushing, but are averaging under 3.5 yards per carry over the last two games. “It’s who we are,” Bortles said. “We want to be able to run the football and do it different ways, so we have to figure it out – whether it’s a ‘during-the-week-practice thing’ or ‘execution thing’ on Sundays. It’s a big part of our offense and who we are and who we want to be.” …

*Bortles also on Sunday said while teams early in the season were focusing on stopping the run with extra defenders near the line, teams in recent weeks “have gotten away from that. … I think we get an extra guy every now and then. I wouldn’t say it’s totally different than how they play everyone else, but we do see some different things. I think that’s where we have to be sharp and be able to adjust on the fly if it’s something that we haven’t practiced.” …

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