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Del Rio stands by decision


Jack Del Rio said he did not regret his decision to play Byron Leftwich at quarterback in Sunday's loss at Houston. Instead, Del Rio cited two regrettable fumbles.

"I say no. I don't have regrets in not pulling Byron. I have regrets not playing well enough to win the game," Del Rio said. "I already told you, I watched that first half and I knew we needed a spark, and then he led us down the field, and then we had two fumbles in a row and the game was over."

Del Rio made those remarks at Monday's press conference. The Jaguars lost, 27-7, to the Texans at Reliant Stadium on Sunday, in a game in which Leftwich was playing on a sore left ankle.

Leftwich told reporters after the game that he was not bothered by the ankle, though he suffered through his second-worst passing performance of the season. Leftwich was especially wild with several of his passes, throwing behind and short of receivers on several occasions.

"He had some misfires; more than normal," Del Rio said of Leftwich. "You just don't see anything in his movement. He just didn't play well and he knows that."

Leftwich first complained of a sore left ankle when he arrived at Alltel Stadium on Friday morning. He missed practice on Friday and spent the day receiving treatment. The ankle is said to have swollen as he slept.

"Have you ever awaken with a (sore) neck?" Del Rio asked reporters in attempting to explain the injury. "Then all of a sudden it goes away. That's the way he described it.

"The process to clear a guy (to play), it's not just the guy saying, 'yeah.' In all the hurdles that needed to be cleared, he was getting the green light," Del Rio added.

Del Rio told reporters after the game that he had decided at halftime, with the Jaguars trailing 10-0, to give Leftwich one more offensive series to prove he could move the ball. On the opening possession of the second half, the Jaguars marched 70 yards in nine plays to cut the deficit to 10-7.

Later in the third quarter, with the score the same, the Jaguars moved to the Texans 28-yard line. On first down, Fred Taylor fumbled the ball away at the 22, however, and the Texans countered with a 78-yard touchdown drive.

On the Jaguars' next offensive play, Leftwich threw to Ernest Wilford for a 15-yard gain, but Wilford fumbled the ball away and the Texans returned the fumble to the Jaguars 26. Three plays later, David Carr completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Owen Daniels and the outcome was, by and large, decided.

"I'm trying to be straight with you," Del Rio said. "He didn't play well."

Monday was a day of putting out "fires" for Del Rio, who had to deal with the matter of defensive end Bobby McCray's traffic arrest on the way home from the airport Sunday night. McCray was arrested for speeding. The police report included information about McCray possessing pills without a prescription.

"We're very confident that will not be an issue. That was on the up and up," Del Rio said of the pills, which were said to have been prescribed by team physicians following the game. "The traffic issue, he's going to have to deal with that. He's a grown man. Last night was not a good decision on his part."

Then there's the matter of having benched safety Deon Grant at halftime of Sunday's game.

"It was a coaching decision. I've had a discussion with him on why and what I need to see going forward and that's between (us)," Del Rio said.

Asked if Grant would be in the starting lineup in Philadelphia this Sunday, Del Rio said, "Yes."

"Will Leftwich be starting (on Sunday)?" Del Rio was asked.

"Should be," he said.

"It's a week to week business. You're hot, then you're not. You just keep playing," Del Rio added.

The Jaguars coach acknowledged that key losses to injury on defense have hurt the team, but he stressed that the team would not dwell on those injuries or use them as an excuse for their loss in Houston.

"We're not ready to raise the white flag, yet. We had many of these injuries during the Jets game. If we pull things together, we can win and win big. Do I acknowledge that there are some things that are going to make it difficult, yes, but we're not going to stop and focus on them," Del Rio said.

He confirmed that defensive tackle Marcus Stroud and wide receiver Matt Jones will be on this week's injury report when it is released on Wednesday. Stroud continues to be hobbled by an ankle he injured the week of the season-opener. Jones is nursing a hamstring.

"It's in the ankle area and the thing that's making it difficult is there is a bone bruise involved. It's going to take time. Matt has been running but he hasn't been running full speed, yet," Del Rio said.

First-round draft choice Marcedes Lewis got extensive playing time at tight end on Sunday but was not the target of a pass.

"If there's one regret we have as a staff coming out of the game, it's that we didn't get to the plays we had for Marcedes," Del Rio said.

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