Byron Leftwich is putting his faith in his offensive line to protect him. This week, however, that offensive line may have to play with a limp, as Leftwich did in Sunday's overtime win over the Jets.
"I believe that with any football team in the country it starts up front. It all starts up front with our guys, too. We have a good offensive line in front of us. It may not seem that way, but we just have to fine-tune a few things and when we fine-tune those things we'll be OK," Leftwich said.
The Jaguars quarterback took a major hit on a sack for the second consecutive week, though the blame for the John Abraham third-quarter sack that resulted in a Jets touchdown belonged to Leftwich, who should've called time out when he saw that his line couldn't account for Abraham.
"I'm telling you everything is coming around. We're winning football games and we're not playing our best football yet. When we're cookin', we'll be pretty tough to stop," Leftwich said.
At issue this week is the physical status of tackle Mo Williams and guard Chris Naeole. Both sustained knee injuries in the win over the Jets. Williams was injured in the overtime period and did not return. He was replaced at right tackle by Ephraim Salaam. Naeole returned to action but was unable to finish the game.
Williams underwent an MRI exam on Monday. Del Rio will provide his official injury report on Wednesday afternoon and Williams, no doubt, will be one of the feature names on that list.
"We've got a week to plan and prepare how to utilize the people we have," Del Rio said.
Rookie offensive tackle Khalif Barnes is likely to play against the Broncos this Sunday. Barnes was expected to play against the Jets but it was decided the combined effects of Abraham and a road game might be too much for a debut performance.
"We like the way he's been working in practice. We'll continue to bring him along. Certainly he's an option for us if Mo can't go," Del Rio said of Barnes.
Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud also limped from the field with a knee injury in the overtime period. He is also likely to appear on the injury report.
The Jaguars used a ball-control game plan that produced a team-record 37 rushing attempts for Fred Taylor against the Jets. It limited the Jets' pass-rush attempts against Leftwich, who was playing on a groin injury he sustained the previous week in Indianapolis.
"To be able to run Fred 37 times allowed us to control the game, control the clock," Del Rio said. "We were able to run it often, which is good, but we'd like to be able to run it better."
Del Rio said the pass-protection was "definitely better," but "there is still room for improvement."
"What we want to do is know our opponent and attack each opponent each week with whatever style we feel we can be successful," Del Rio added.
Whatever the style, Leftwich says the Jaguars' ability to be successful all starts up front.