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Wild Card Week begins: “It’s a clean slate”

Posted Jan 1, 2018

DE Calais Campbell as the Jaguars began preparing to play the Buffalo Bills in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at EverBank Field Sunday: “Everything you do up until this point is just to get in the dance”


JACKSONVILLE – What’s done is done, and the regular season is don

What’s next for the Jaguars: the postseason.

Calais Campbell said that means whatever happened for the Jaguars to get to the playoffs is great – but it means little compared to what happens beginning this weekend.

“It’s a clean slate; everything you do up until this point is just to get in the dance,” the veteran defensive end said Monday as the AFC South champion Jaguars (10-6) prepared to play host to the Buffalo Bills (9-7) in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

“It doesn’t matter what seed you are. At this point, it’s anyone’s game. The best team will win.”

The Jaguars, after winning seven of eight games including three consecutive December home games to clinch their first AFC South title, lost their last two regular-season games. They lost the regular-season finale at Tennessee Sunday, 15-10. The Jaguars entered that game locked into the AFC’s No. 3 seed.

The Bills, winners of three of their last four games, beat the Miami Dolphins 22-16 Sunday, then clinched their first playoff appearance since 1999 when Cincinnati beat Baltimore Sunday.

“The regular season doesn’t matter,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “The regular season might as well be the preseason. It’s over and gone. We have our healthy players and now we’re trying to take this train as far as we can take it. It’s truly a reset button because now nothing matters that happened before.

“We’ve done enough to get to this point. Now, we need to learn from what has happened to us and grow.”

Jackson won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos following the 2015 season and has played in eight postseason games, second to Campbell among Jaguars players.

“It’s faster,” Jackson said of the postseason. “And I think it’s faster because every play is truly critical. In the regular season, two or three plays can determine a game. Here, one play can determine a game. So, we have to make sure we’re doing what we should be doing.”

Campbell, who played in nine postseason games with Arizona between 2008 and 2016, said the intensity jump from the regular season to the postseason is significant.

“It’s very different, but at the end of the day you have to do the same thing you’ve been doing,” Campbell said. “A lot of guys want to go above and beyond and it makes you a little uptight. At the end of the day, you just do what you’ve been doing – a little more focused, a little more intensity.

“It is different, though. It’s like going from preseason to regular season, then regular season to the playoffs. … Every play is so critical in the playoffs. You have to make sure you’re locked in and focused, and take advantage of every opportunity you get.”

Also around the Jaguars:

*Count defensive tackle Marcell Dareus as one of the Jaguars players ready for the postseason. In fact, he may be as ready as any player for Sunday. Dareus, the No. 3 overall selection by Buffalo in the 2011 NFL Draft, was traded by the Bills to the Jaguars for a sixth-round draft selection in October. “It’s hard to say it isn’t [personal],’’ Dareus said. “It’s just crazy. God is funny. Just don’t question his work. Just do your job. They had to make a move. It’s business, but you can’t act like it doesn’t hurt. It’s ironic we see these guys.” …

*Wide receiver Allen Hurns played Sunday after missing six games with an ankle injury. He caught three passes for 38 yards and said he was about 80-to-85 percent Sunday. “I felt fine getting back out there,” he said. “Of course it’s going to be a transition back. I couldn’t take all the plays on offense. Hopefully, this week I can get more plays. As far as mentally going out there and seeing different coverages, I felt fine.”…

*Dareus will be playing in his first career postseason game Sunday. “I was telling Malik Jackson, ‘Bro, this is officially the longest season I’ve ever had in my life,’” he said with a laugh. “I don’t even know what my body’s going to do this week. I’m just going to prepare the best I can.” …

*Campbell on the importance of playing at home in the first round of the postseason: “It’s very critical. The biggest thing about being at home is you have a routine and a setup you’ve worked on all year. When you’re on the road, you don’t know how it’s going to be. Everything’s different.” …

*Campbell on whether the defense got its “swagger” back Sunday after allowing a season-high 44 points in a loss to San Francisco the previous week: “The swagger I don’t think really left … one bad day at the office. Our swagger is there 24/7. I’m confident the defense is going to show up and we’re going to handle business.” …

 


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