They're coming off a gut-wrenching loss, the kind that can eat at a team beyond Jack Del Rio's 24-hour rule. The Jaguars are facing a major challenge this week and it's not just in the form of the New York Jets. The Jaguars are also facing the challenge of putting last Sunday's loss behind them.
"We're way past the 24-hour rule. I'd like to focus my efforts on the Jets," Del Rio said in response to a question at Wednesday's press conference. The subject of the reporter's question referred directly to, you guessed it, the Jaguars' 10-3 loss to the Colts.
"I think our football team is more mature and gaining maturity as we go. I think we'll be more consistent this year, week in and week out. You don't have time to feel sorry for yourself," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars face a Jets team this Sunday that shares a lot of the same incentives the Jaguars have for winning. Both teams are 1-1 and need a win to stay on the plus side. Both teams could find themselves looking back at this game late in the season when the AFC wild-card tiebreakers are weighed. And both teams have star offensive players who are expected to play despite being hobbled by leg injuries.
"I'm fine. I'll be ready to play on Sunday," Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich told reporters on Wednesday. Leftwich would not say whether or not his groin injury would allow him to participate in the afternoon's practice.
Jets running back Curtis Martin sustained what is thought to be a mild knee sprain in Sunday's win over the Dolphins, but Martin is also expected to be in the lineup in Giants Stadium this Sunday.
Leftwich is attempting to brush off a loss that left him physically battered and awaiting a fine from the league office for having made a sideline gesture aimed at Colts defensive line coach John Teerlinck. Leftwich apologized for his actions on Monday. Teerlinck has offered no reaction to claims he made a slash-the-throat-gesture to the RCA Dome crowd as Leftwich lay on the ground injured.
"I told myself this morning that I'm not talking about the defensive line coach. We have to make sure all of our focus is on the Jets," Leftwich said.
Can the Jaguars do that? Can they focus completely on the Jets, or will they succumb to a hangover from the loss in Indianapolis?
"Maybe last year we would've still been worrying about the Colts," Leftwich said. Not this year, he added.
"I'm tired of talking about the hits," said Leftwich, who was sacked six times by the Colts. "It's football. You're supposed to get hit."
Be that as it may, the Jaguars will undoubtedly make pass-protection a major part of their preparation for the Jets, who have a trio of feared pass-rushers in defensive ends John Abraham, Shaun Ellis and Bryan Thomas.
"We have no choice but to be better. That's just going to focus us even harder," Jaguars right tackle Maurice Williams said of the offensive line's performance against the Colts. "We'll make sure we get it corrected. Knowing we have to improve, that's the big thing."
Leftwich was expected to be listed as "questionable" on the official injury report the Jaguars were to release after practice, though Del Rio's comments seemed to leave little doubt Leftwich will play.
"Byron looks good, feels good. We remain optimistic he'll be able to play. He's a tough guy. He's responding well," Del Rio said.
In roster news, Del Rio said the team has re-signed offensive lineman Derrick Fletcher and defensive tackle Martin Chase. Those two players will fill the voids created by the loss of safety Donovin Darius to a knee injury and by the release of rookie wide receiver Chad Owens. Darius has been put on the injured reserve list and Owens was signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers.