Keenan McCardell looked around the huddle and he immediately saw something he didn't like. He saw and felt a sense of shock among his teammates.
"When 71 wasn't playing, there were guys in there who were shocked," McCardell said, referring to the absence of star left tackle Tony Boselli.
It was a game-day decision that Boselli couldn't play. He was deactivated, which may have been as much a surprise to Jaguars players as it was to fans and media.
All had come to regard Boselli as something beyond the football frailty the NFL injury report defines as "OUT." Oh, yeah, we all knew the big guy could get hurt, but he always played hurt. When he was added to the injury report on Thursday, there was barely a ripple of concern.
"Wear and tear on the shoulder," coach Tom Coughlin said. "I'll play," Boselli added, laughing off the most recent injury that threatens his status as the best offensive tackle in the game.
We took him for granted. Even his teammates did. Now, there was concern he wouldn't be able to play this Sunday in Seattle. There is even greater concern beyond that.
"It came as a shock to me," linebacker Kevin Hardy said of the news Boselli had been deactivated. "By his not playing today, he's got to be in a lot of pain. We've got to move on with what we have."
Following Sunday's 23-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns -- clearly not the same Browns the Jaguars beat 48-0 last Dec. 3 -- Coughlin remained vague on the issue of Boselli's shoulder injury. Coughlin would not reveal what the injury is, beyond saying it's a "sore shoulder."
Would Boselli require surgery?
"He may at the end of the season. Hopefully, we can work with him … and allow that he would play," Coughlin said.
So it was that seven days after they had reached an emotional high with a win over Tennessee that left the Jaguars 2-0, they sunk to opposite depths this past Sunday. Injuries are again decimating their ranks. Boselli's status is in doubt. They lost to the Browns. Can it get any worse?
"You gotta have some fire. We were amazed Tony didn't play today. Sunday is a day you've got to have all your emotions," McCardell said.
The Browns clearly had all of their emotions in place. The Browns came to Alltel Stadium to play football; the most physical kind of football the AFC Central has long prided itself as being its unique style.
Simply put, Browns' rookie head coach Butch Davis brought Miami Hurricanes football to Cleveland. On this Sunday in Jacksonville, the Browns trash-talked with the best of Davis' former Miami teams, then backed it up with the kind of force with which Miami has been associated for years.
The first evidence of that style occurred on the opening kickoff, when Cleveland tight end Aaron Shea knocked the Jaguars' Rob Meier wobbly. Shea followed that hit with a mild celebration that was not flagged.
Then first-round draft choice Gerard Warren, the Florida defensive tackle, struck the most decisive blow of the game on the Jaguars' first offensive snap. On an ill-fated play that saw Brunell scramble from the pocket and underhand a short escape-pass to Stacey Mack, the ball was intercepted by Orpheus Roye at the Jaguars 15-yard line. But the worst was to come.
Warren took a 10-yard run at Brunell, then Warren planted the crown of his helmet into Brunell's earhole. It was a vicious hit, but brought no penalty. Brunell tried to play, but barely made it into the second quarter before it became apparent his day was complete.
"That was kind of cheap," McCardell said of Warren's hit. "He hit him after a turnover. The first thing defensive linemen do is look up the quarterback."
The turn of events stung the Jaguars much as the news they had lost their emotional leader, Boselli. The Jaguars retaliated by trash-talking, and they were penalized twice (Damon Jones and Sean Dawkins) for taunting.
"They were acting childishly also. The refs just saw it one way," McCardell said. "That ain't got nothing to do with it. If we play our game, we beat them."
Their game had been opportunistic offense and physical defense. On this day, those qualities clearly belonged to the other team. For sure, the Browns were ready to play. Their energy was greater than the Jaguars'.
"You get an opportunity to go 3-0, you gotta have fire because 3-0 is big," McCardell said.
Why didn't the Jaguars have the Browns' fire? Apparently Boselli means that much to this team.