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Wednesday evening wrap up: Jaguars-Bills

Posted Dec 11, 2013

Senior writer John Oehser addresses five topics discussed by players and coaches Wednesday during media access as the Jacksonville Jaguars prepared to play the Buffalo Bills

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 Buffalo Bills Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville…

1.The MoJo watch. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s hamstring will be a week-long issue, and as of Wednesday it’s wait-and-see. Jones-Drew’s increased production in recent weeks has keyed an improved running attack in recent weeks and his 103 yards on 14 carries against Houston last week was a season-high. However, he sustained a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter of that game and isn’t expected to practice until Friday. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and Jones-Drew each said as much Monday and reiterated it Wednesday. “You don’t want to make it worse, so you have to make sure it’s healed the right way and be smart in that situation,” Jones-Drew said Wednesday. “I’m confident I’ll be able to go the way things have been going and the things we’ve been doing. I think we’ll be all right.”

2.Can Jaguars run without Jones-Drew? Jones-Drew’s belief that he will play has merit; when he has said as much in the past he usually has played. And even when he plays hurt, he typically has been productive. But whatever his status, the Jaguars need to run effectively. They have rushed for more than 100 yards as a team in each of the last three games after not doing so in any of the first 10 games. That has helped them into positive down-and-distance situations that have helped the offense. Jordan Todman would start if Jones-Drew can’t play, with rookie Denard Robinson also getting carries. Todman’s career-high game is 31 yards, but he has been increasingly effective in recent weeks. “We’ll see what Maurice does, but Jordan’s done a really good job,” Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne said. “There’s his speed outside, but he’s also crammed it in there and got us yards in between the tackles. We feel confident with Jordan and Denard will get some opportunities as well, but whoever’s healthy we’re going to run.”

3.Can Cecil Shorts III reach 1,000?  Shorts barely missed reaching the 1,000-yard mark last season, falling 21 yards shorts last season when missing the season finale in Tennessee with a concussion. No Jaguars player has reached the mark since Jimmy Smith did it in 2005, and with Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely, Shorts is the Jaguars’ hope this season. He has 66 receptions for 777 yards and three touchdowns this season, and needs to average right at 75 yards a game in his last three games to reach the goal. He has averaged four receptions for 42.4 yards since the bye week. Shorts said he won’t play the final three games worrying about the plateau. “You’ll stress yourself out doing that,” he said.

4.Can the streak continue? The Jaguars by any measure are hot. They have won four of five games since the bye and their three-game winning streak matches the longest active streak in the AFC. They haven’t had a four-game winning streak since 2007, when they won four consecutive games to start the season with a 4-1 record. The stretch has kept the Jaguars mathematically in the playoff chase, though the team needs to win its final three games and have Baltimore and Miami lose all three games – among other scenarios. “It hasn’t been brought up in any of our meetings,” Henne said. “Gus hasn’t brought it up. We’re worried about week-to-week and what can we do. If we take care of each game at a time and do what we need to do to get better, we’ll give ourselves an opportunity, but it’s not on our minds.”

5.Blocking the Bills. The top matchup Sunday could be the Jaguars’ offensive line versus a very good Bills defensive front. Buffalo’s front seven has struggled at times against the run, but they’re exceptionally good rushing the passer, leading the NFL with 44 sacks. Defensive end/linebacker Mario Williams leads the team with 12.5 sacks and his backup, Jerry Hughes, has registered eight this season. Marcell Dareus and Keith Williams both have seven sacks in the middle. The Jaguars’ 41 sacks allowed are tied for seventh-most in the NFL. The Bills move players around and show various blitz looks before the snap, and Williams lines up all around the front, particularly in passing situations. “Their defensive line is an elite group of guys,” Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said, with right tackle Austin Pasztor adding, “They’re definitely talented up front.”

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