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Focus on stopping run


The Jaguars don't know what quarterback they'll be facing this Sunday in Pittsburgh. In at least one way, however, they know it doesn't matter.

"It's just a different person handing off the football," defensive end Reggie Hayward said when asked what it will mean if Ben Roethlisberger isn't the Steelers quarterback on Sunday.

The Steelers' calling card has long been a power running game. This year, though they've played only four games, the Steelers are seventh in the league in rushing. Last year they were number two.

"Our approach has to be to prepare for (Roethlisberger) and prepare for what the adjustment might be. They won't change their approach. They'll run the ball at you and challenge you physically," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said.

Roethlisberger sustained a left knee injury in the final moments of Monday night's win in San Diego. The injury was first feared to be serious but Steelers coach Bill Cowher has since said Roethlisberger hasn't been ruled out of this Sunday's game.

Second-string quarterback Tommy Maddox injured a calf muscle in practice last week and is not expected to be available this week. That would leave the starting job to Charlie Batch, if Roethlisberger can't play.

So what would it mean if Batch makes his first start since 2001? Most likely, the Steelers would commit even more firmly to the run.

"If you have a poor run-defense against the Steelers, you're going to have a very long day. We understand that," Del Rio said.

Statistically, the Jaguars have a poor run-defense, but don't tell them that. Even though the Jaguars are 29th in the league against the run, they have no doubt they can match up against the Steelers' running game.

"I told (defensive coordinator) Mike Smith after we played Indy there that questions would be coming because we concentrated on stopping the pass," Del Rio said.

Against the Steelers, the Jaguars almost certainly will be changing their focus, but do the Jaguars dare turn too hard toward the run should Roethlisberger play? That question would seem to symbolize the difference between Roethlisberger playing or not playing.

"If you can run Jerome Bettis and make first downs, you can put the game away. If you get crazy loading too many people in the box, they just throw it to Hines Ward," Del Rio said.

"They're smash-mouth. We'll definitely get a test. I think we're a lot better than 29th," middle linebacker Mike Peterson said.

"These guys are going to hit you with everything they got," Hayward added.

The Jaguars know that'll happen with or without Roethlisberger in the game.

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