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Difficult Monday


Victory Monday lacked that usual giddy feeling around EverBank Field this time around.

Season-ending injuries have that effect.

Rashean Mathis, a starting cornerback and a veteran leader of the NFL's No. 4-ranked defense, was one of three Jaguars players placed on the season-ending injured reserve list Monday, Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said.

Offensive tackle Eben Britton also was placed on injured reserve, as was special teams ace/linebacker Kyle Bosworth.

 "It's what it is," Del Rio said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 17-3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.

"It's life in the NFL. It's a tough business. It was nice to get a win yesterday, and it's tough for a couple of guys to get news that they're going in IR, but as a football team we're going forward the best we can."

Mathis sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the second quarter Sunday. Del Rio said it was a non-contact injury Mathis sustained covering wide receiver Pierre Garcon.

"He planted to come back and the knee kept going," Del Rio said, adding, "It's unfortunate. He's a good football player and was having a good year for us."

Mathis, a nine-year veteran from Bethune-Cookman, did not have an interception this season, but he had played consistently much of the season, and had started all nine games. He also led the Jaguars with 12 passes defensed.

"That's a huge loss," Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "It's definitely a veteran voice out there, but we have guys who are going to step in, pick up where he left off, grow up and hopefully do the same thing he did. He's been playing good this year.

"I'm proud of him. I just hate to see him go down with an injury."

The move to IR for Britton means his season ends early for a second consecutive year.

Britton, the Jaguars' second-round selection in the 2009 draft, started 15 games at right tackle as a rookie, then started the first seven games last season. This year he missed four preseason games with a back injury, then returned to start three games – one at right tackle and two at left guard – in late September and early October.

The back issue reoccurred unexpectedly the morning of the Jaguars' game in Pittsburgh October 16, and Britton missed the ensuing four games. Del Rio said Britton had complications from the procedure performed on his back.

"He's a good football player, and a guy we were hoping to get back, but he's not going to make it," Del Rio said.

Del Rio said it's his understanding that Britton will eventually return, and that further surgery should not be needed. Del Rio said Bosworth sustained a broken left hand late in the victory over Indianapolis.

The Jaguars' victory Sunday was their second in three weeks after a five-game losing streak, and Del Rio said while there are areas that need to improve, the Jaguars also have played well in several areas in recent weeks.

"We recognize where we need to be stronger and do things better and we're working on it," Del Rio said. "In the meantime, let's not forget about what's going real well. We're playing great defense. We're taking the ball off people. We're getting sacks. These are good things. Don't get too carried away chasing the one or two negatives."

Also on Monday:

*While tight end Marcedes Lewis caught one pass for minus-4 yards and had a catchable drop Sunday, Del Rio said the 2010 Pro Bowl selection had a better game than statistics indicate. "That was probably his most dominant day at the point of attack," Del Rio said. "You might talk about the one ball he didn't catch or you could talk about the 15 or 20 blocks he made to dominate his guy. He played good football. He played winning football for us yesterday. Has it been perfect? No. Does it need improvement? Yes, but our guys are manning up. They're fighting hard and they're working hard."

*Del Rio said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton expects to play Sunday against Cleveland. He missed Sunday's victory over Indianapolis with an ankle injury. Knighton never had missed an NFL game in two and a half seasons. "He told me it was the first game he had ever missed – high school, college or pro," Del Rio said. "He didn't like standing on the sideline."

*Del Rio said he expected the Jaguars will sign a cornerback soon to take Mathis' place on the roster. Will Middleton played in Mathis' spot and started four games with an interception in place of Derek Cox when the latter missed time with injuries in the first half of the season. "We're not counting on him to do anything other than to do his job, to make the plays he's called on to make," Del Rio said of Middleton. "He's primarily a backup corner that plays special teams, but when he has been thrust into duty, he has done a nice job in that role. Wherever we play and however we play our guys we expect them to play well. He's done a nice job stepping up when he's been called on."

*Del Rio said he prefers for now not to discuss the specifics of quarterback Blaine Gabbert's progress. Gabbert completed 14 of 21 passes for 118 yards Sunday with a touchdown and an interception. He has completed 93 of 194 passes for 1,025 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions this season. "What I'd like to do is see if we can't shift the conversation a little bit off the microscope view of our quarterback," Del Rio said. "I think I've talked about it enough over the last couple of weeks. The only thing I would say is he's working it the right way and we are as well. It's not quite there yet." Del Rio said he has no doubt that Gabbert will be an effective NFL quarterback. "I think the best thing for us to do is maybe spend more time working at it and less time trying to convince you," he said.

*Del Rio said he planned to take the same approach with the overall discussion of the passing offense, which is ranked 32nd in the NFL. "It is what it is, guys," Del Rio said. "Until we make it better, you have to ask the questions – I understand. I'm just not going to continue to try to give you answers."

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