The game plan is in, and the time is drawing near.
The Jaguars on Friday morning went through their last extensive practice in preparation for the 2011 regular-season opener, and when it was over, a little more than 48 hours remained before kickoff against the Tennessee Titans.
Jack Del Rio is in his 26thNFL season, his ninth as the Jaguars' head coach.
But opening week? It never gets old.
"I love it," Del Rio said as the Jaguars prepared to play the Titans at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. "The rush, everything coming together, is always exciting – butterflies, the whole bit. Next to a playoff game, to me, it's that feeling you get when you open the season brand new.
"It's different than all the other regular season-games. It takes on a greater meaning."
The Jaguars also on Friday released their final injury report of the week, with three players listed as questionable: defensive end Aaron Kampman (knee), tight end Zach Miller (knee) and right tackle Eben Britton (back).
Kampman and running back Maurice Jones-Drew each missed the first three preseason games before returning to play about 10 plays in the preseason finale. Miller missed the final three preseason games, and Britton missed the entire preseason.
Six-year veteran Guy Whimper, who started all four preseason games, would start in place of Britton if the third-year veteran is unavailable.
"As a professional football player, I have to take it how it comes," Whimper said. "I can't worry about that situation. I just have to worry about this team, this offense, execute plays and put us in a good chance to win this game."
Del Rio has talked through the preseason and training camp about the level of improvement of the Jaguars' defense, a unit that has added free agents such as linebackers Clint Session and Paul Poslusnzy, cornerback Drew Coleman, safety Dawan Landry and defensive end Matt Roth.
The Jaguars have shown signs of being a dramatically improved run defense, something Del Rio said will be tested Sunday by Titans running back Chris Johnson, a 2,000-yard rusher in 2009.
"He's pretty darned good," Del Rio said. "There will be challenges for us as a football team, but certainly the combination of their offensive line and their running backs, it's one of the better ground games year in and year out."
Del Rio on Friday also:
*Was asked about starting quarterback Luke McCown's most important attributes. "Attention to detail," Del Rio said. "Work ethic." The Jaguars receivers also have talked this week about how quickly McCown releases his passes. "Ball out McCown is what they're calling him," Del Rio said. "He gets the ball out."
*Reflected on the meaning of Sunday's regular-season opener being played on the 10thanniversary of September 11. "That was a day with a lot of questions and a lot of sadness," Del Rio said. "I think we should never forget that day, so I think it's neat that we're able to remember that day and in some small way recognize those people who were affected."