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A positive direction


Mel Tucker doesn't believe now is the time for a change in philosophy.

Blitz more? Attack on 3rd-and-long?

Tucker, in his third season as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator and his first since assuming added responsibility this past off-season, said there are times to do those things, and he said it's not as if the Jaguars don't believe in being aggressive in so-called big situations.

But Tucker also said the Jaguars have a defensive philosophy in which they believe.

And right now, there aren't major changes in store.

"We do what we feel like we need to do, and have to do," Tucker said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-4) prepared to play the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sunday at 1 p.m.

"Whether it's a four-man rush, five-man rush or all-out blitz, we've done all of that at some point in time. Whatever it is, we need to execute at a high level. We do what we do."

The Jaguars, after ranking 28th in the NFL in total defense last year, have improved dramatically this season, ranking eight in the NFL overall. They have held four of five opponents – Tennessee, the New York Jets, Carolina and Cincinnati – to 300 or fewer yards.

They also held each of those opponents under their season average.

In the only game the Jaguars didn't hold an opponent under 300 yards, they allowed 503 yards to the Saints. But in that game, they held Saints to two touchdowns – none in the first half – and New Orleans scored 12 points below their season average.

"We're very, very positive about the direction we're going," Tucker said.

But while the defense has been improved, it has not been perfect. Against Cincinnati this past week, the Jaguars allowed a 37-yard touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Andy Dalton to rookie wide receiver A.J. Green, and late in the game allowed a nine-yard pass from Dalton to tight end Jermaine Grisham on 4th-and-6 from the Jaguars 19.

The Bengals scored the game-winning touchdown three plays later.

"We need to find more plays on the field, especially on 3rd-and-medium situations in the red zone," Tucker said. "We have to play better and we have to continue to finish at the quarterback. Our tackling has improved somewhat, but we have to continue to keep that there. We're doing things that give us the opportunity to be successful. We just have to be more consistent.

"When we execute, we get off the field," Tucker added. "When we don't execute, we're not as successful. It's pretty simple."

Also on Thursday:

*DE Aaron Kampman practiced full, the first time this season he has been listed as practicing full on the injury report. He had practiced on a limited basis twice last week and on Wednesday. Kampman missed the first five games of the season with a knee injury that kept him out the last eight games of last season.

*Cornerback Derek Cox returned to practice on a limited basis after not practicing Wednesday, as did linebacker Daryl Smith. Cox missed the last two games with a groin injury, while Smith sustained a concussion Sunday.

*Outside linebacker LB Clint Session (elbow) did not practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday.

*Running back Montell Owens (knee) and guard/center Jason Spitz (quadriceps) missed practice for a second consecutive day.

*Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee) and wide receiver Jason Hill (thigh) returned to practice full after being limited Wednesday, as did safety Courtney Greene (neck). Greene missed the last two games.

*Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder), cornerback Drew Coleman (head), tight end Zach Miller (shoulder), wide receiver Kassim Osgood (hamstring) and offensive tackle Guy Whimper (hip) remained limited for a second consecutive day. Fullback Greg Jones, running back Maurice Jones-Drew and cornerback Rashean Mathis returned to practice full after being limited for non-injury reasons Wednesday.

*Tucker discussed the addition of safety Dwight Lowery, who joined the team in a trade from the New York Jets shortly after the preseason and has started the last three games. "He gives us range," Tucker said. "He has good ball skills. He's instinctive. He has stepped in and done a nice job." Lowery leads Jacksonville with two interceptions and is tied with cornerback Rashean Mathis for the team lead with six passes defensed. "We needed to have better safety play overall," Tucker said. "I think we're moving closer to that. We're moving in the right direction."

*Tucker, speaking for the first time since tearing a quadriceps tendon fielding punts after practice on September 23, said of the incident, "I decided to take a shot at it. It didn't work out for me." Tucker said he has moved on from the incident. "It was a while ago," he said. "I've already coached and called three games since then, so I'm past that. It's been well-documented. I think we've all moved forward."

*Tucker also discussed the addition of middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who not only has played at or near a Pro Bowl level in the first five games, but who has called defensive signals on the field playing in the middle of the defense. "He understands the defensive calls and can get us lined up quickly," Tucker said. "He can make the adjustments you need to make. He has leadership ability. He's a guy who is what you want at that position." Posluszny not only leads the Jaguars with 61 tackles, he also has a sack, two passes defensed and two tackles for loss.

*Posluszny Sunday will be playing about 25 miles from his hometown of Aliquippa, Pa. He grew up a Steelers fans and played at Penn State University. He said he has had to purchase about nine tickets for the game, and there's a reason for the relatively low number. "The thing about playing Pittsburgh is a lot of people already have season tickets," he said. "They're uneasy about this one. They're like, 'You know, Paul: we want you to do well, but we want the Steelers to win.'''

*Tucker on cornerback Rashean Mathis' play this season, "He started off with a good camp. He has stayed healthy. He's done a solid job for us. He hasn't been perfect, but he has been good."

*Posluszny said while he has played well this season a lot of his production can be attributed to playing behind defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu. "It's huge," Posluszny said. "For a middle linebacker, the two guys in front of him are the most important thing. They're only going to improve. You see that each week. That's a dream for a middle linebacker, to have those two guys in front of you."

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