Tom Coughlin expects Mark Brunell to be in the starting lineup Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, despite sitting out his second consecutive day of practice with a right quadriceps injury. Meanwhile, Coughlin was not as optimistic in his outlook for running back Fred Taylor.
"I fully expect Mark to play. Something very good would have to happen for Fred to play," Coughlin told reporters at his noon press conference today.
"He plays his way through these things and has throughout his career. Mark will fight his way through most of these muscular things," Coughlin said.
Brunell is listed as "probable" on the Jaguars' injury report; Taylor is "questionable" with a groin injury that could cause him to miss his sixth consecutive game.
Meanwhile, the telecast of this Sunday's game in Jacksonville has been officially removed from the "injury report." The potential for a blackout has been extinguished, meaning the game will be shown in Jacksonville and its secondary TV markets. The previous two home games had been blacked out.
Coughlin wants to further reward the local audience with a win that would snap a five-game losing streak. "A win does put things back in a positive perspective and is a good launching pad for what goes on from there," Coughlin said.
The Jaguars' opponent, Cincinnati, is 4-3 and has its sights set on being a late-season playoff contender. A win Sunday would clearly make the Bengals a playoff contender at the halfway point in the season.
The Jaguars coach entertained questions on several different topics during today's meeting with reporters.
• "At this point in time, he does not have the numbers you'd like him to have. It's critical to get him untracked," Coughlin said of defensive end Tony Brackens, who has recorded just one sack for one yard lost in the three games he's played this season. Brackens returned to action on Oct. 18 following a preseason knee injury.
• "That part of it is over," Coughlin said when asked about defensive tackle Larry Smith's punishment for his reported altercation with center Jeff Smith. "We've had our suspension and we've had our discussions."
• "It's too easy to blame it on the scheme," Coughlin said of player criticism of the Jaguars' final-drive defensive scheme in Tennessee.
• "We wanted to be as good as we could be as fast as we could be," he said of the team's start-up philosophy that has created grave salary-cap problems. "We experienced our problems with injuries in 2000 and with injuries and the cap this year. I'm not going to look back."
These are tough times for Coughlin, who is having to shoulder all of the blame for the team's recent failures. Wide receiver Jimmy Smith, during a conference call with Cincinnati reporters this week, said the toll on his coach was becoming scary and that Coughlin has reacted by working extra hours and not going home.
"I don't know if it's scary, but it's no fun. I go home; not often, but I go home," Coughlin said.