Chad Johnson may not be ready to give Rashean Mathis a "yes" vote, but Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio gave one to rookie left tackle Khalif Barnes at Monday's press conference.
"He did very well. He played all but two plays. He was solid. He was aggressive. He gave us a lift," Del Rio said of Barnes, the team's second-round draft pick from Washington.
Barnes replaced veteran Ephraim Salaam in the starting lineup at a troubled place on the Jaguars' much-maligned offensive line. The result was that for the first time this season quarterback Byron Leftwich wasn't sacked and Fred Taylor reached the 100-yard rushing mark.
"The offensive line is a group. They need to play well together. The group played well," Del Rio said.
Taylor's 132 yards rushing left the Jaguars 14th in the league in rushing yardage. Leftwich's 86.8 passer rating is 15th in the league.
Number four wide receiver Ernest Wilford made his second touchdown catch of the season and the fourth of his career, leaving the Jaguars at 4-0 when he catches a touchdown pass. That raises the question: Will Wilford's playing time increase?
"Ernest has been very solid since the day he arrived here. You saw some determination down in the red zone," Del Rio said, referring to Wilford's 11-yard touchdown catch in the Jaguars' 23-20 win over the Bengals on Sunday night.
"Yeah, there's always that chance (his playing time could increase), but we like the way the (wide receiver) group is working right now. He's always been productive," Del Rio said.
Taylor, safety Deon Grant and kicker Josh Scobee were awarded game balls for their performances. Grant had six tackles and was integral in the Jaguars' double-teaming of Johnson, the Bengals' star wide receiver. Scobee converted field goal attempts of 31, 51 and 53 yards.
"It was a solid performance," Del Rio said of his team's victory. "We'll turn our attention to the Steelers tonight playing a Monday night game at San Diego. It should be a good one to watch."
The Jaguars play at Pittsburgh this Sunday at one o'clock.