The Jaguars' difficult injury situation got a bit trickier Friday.
But Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said Friday that even with five players – including two members of the secondary – doubtful or out entering a match-up with one of the NFL's best passing teams, he expects the Jaguars to play well.
Del Rio said the reason is pretty simple:
Whatever the situation in recent seasons, the Jaguars have been resilient in difficult circumstances, and Del Rio said he doesn't expect that to change.
"It's been a good week of preparation," Del Rio said Friday as the Jaguars (1-2) prepared to play the New Orleans Saints (2-1) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. "I like the commitment level. I like the way the staff's working."
The Jaguars, after a victory over Tennessee in the regular-season opener, lost to the New York Jets 32-3 in Week 2, then gave up a five-point second-half lead in a 16-10 loss to Carolina this past Sunday in Week 3.
"We've always been pretty hard-nosed and pretty resilient," Del Rio said. "We'd like to become more than that and we are working toward that, but we have always been that. We've never been a team that backs down from anybody. We expect to win the football game.
"The mentality has been very good and the preparation has been very good."
The Jaguars on Friday released their final injury report of the week, and as expected, defensive end Aaron Kampman (knee) and running back and special teams specialist Montell Owens have been ruled out.
Perhaps the most critical midweek development:
A groin injury sustained Thursday by cornerback Derek Cox, who did not practice Friday. A starter the past two seasons and in two of the first three games this season, Cox is listed as doubtful. That means third-year veteran Will Middleton likely will start against New Orleans.
Del Rio said Middleton played well in his previous start this season, a 32-3 loss to the New York Jets that Cox missed with a rib injury.
"He did a nice job," Del Rio said.
Backup safety Courtney Greene (neck) and wide receiver/special teams specialist Kassim Osgood also missed practice Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday and are listed as doubtful.
Defensive tackle Leger Douzable, offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and guard/center Jason Spitz were limited Friday and are listed as questionable, while defensive tackle Tyson Alualu and defensive end Matt Roth are listed as probable.
Roth and Alualu each practiced Friday. Each is expected to play, as is Monroe.
Del Rio said the absence of Owens and potential absence of Osgood gives the Jaguars a particular challenge Sunday. Each player is one of the NFL's better special teams players, and Saints running back Darren Sproles long has been one of the NFL's best returners.
"There are certainly plenty of challenges, but our philosophy is the net guy up has to pick up the flag, so let's roll," Del Rio said.