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Focused on the Texans


The past is the past, and the injury situation can't be controlled, either.

As Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert sees it – and Head Coach Mike Mularkey, too, for that matter – that makes the focus around EverBank Field this week as simple as it is important:

The focus in on the immediate future, which means the Houston Texans:

*An AFC South game.

*A rivalry game.

*The 2012 regular-season home opener.

And perhaps most importantly, a chance to not only firmly put a season-opening overtime loss to Minnesota behind them, but to tie for first place in the AFC South.

"I always said there's a 24-hour rule," Gabbert said Wednesday as the Jaguars (0-1) prepared to play the AFC South-leading Texans (1-0) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. "You learn from the games and move on, so we're not worried about that. We're focused on the Texans, and that's how it goes.

"Whether you win or you lose, you can't read yesterday's newspaper. That game doesn't matter. We would have loved to have won that game, but at the same time, we have a division opponent and we're going to prepare for it."

Because it is a division opponent, there is familiarity beyond the 10 non-division opponents the Jaguars will face this season. Mularkey on Wednesday was asked how much the team focused on division opponents in offseason preparation.

"More than the norm," he said.

That preparation will be important this week, because not only are the Texans the preseason favorite by many to win a second consecutive AFC South title, they are widely considered one of the preseason favorites to contend for the Super Bowl.

They are a talented team featuring Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster and Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, and their running game ranked second in the NFL last season. They also improved dramatically defensively last season, and swept the Jaguars en route to their first AFC South championship.

"It's a rivalry game – it's a division game," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "For us to be successful, we have to win these games. We played well last week. I think we can play a lot better. I think we all feel that way and I think we'll improve each week."

And while losing in overtime Sunday in a game in which the Jaguars led with 20 seconds remaining hurt, Mularkey – like Gabbert and the rest of the players – said the time for discussing the opener was over.

"I hate talking about this last game, because I'm already over it," Mularkey said. "I'm on to the next one."

Mularkey said he felt players on Wednesday already had moved on. The team practiced in full pads on Wednesday afternoon, but Mularkey said throughout morning game-planning and a morning walkthrough, he liked the feel of the team.

"It's the players in that locker room," Mularkey said. "They're the guys, to me, that got over it without any help from us (the coaching staff). I've been around the league long enough to know I think they're over that and moved on."

Mularkey, too, said while the Texans will be favored Sunday by most analysts, neither that nor how the opener ended will affect preparation.

 "The locker room already knows – every week you see things that take place," Mularkey said. "You see predictions of what's supposed to happen and what's not. Players know there are many variables that go into why they win and why they lose.

"There is parity in the league. That's what the NFL was looking for way back when this all started – any given week."

An issue facing the Jaguars this week is injuries. While starting guard Uche Nwaneri practiced Tuesday after leaving Sunday's game with an ankle injury, starting guard Eben Britton and starting offensive tackle Cameron Bradfield didn't practice and their status is uncertain for Sunday.

Linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) did not practice, and cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring) was limited. Mularkey said each player was uncertain for Sunday, as is running back Rashad Jennings (knee), who started Sunday before sustaining an injury to the same knee that kept him out all of last season.

Being a division game, the game essentially counts twice, with a victory tying the Jaguars with the Texans at 1-1 and a loss leaving them 0-2 and two games behind.

"It's a division game, so regardless of if we're 0-1 or whatever, it's a big game," Jones-Drew said.

The Texans are leading the South at 1-0 after a victory over the Miami Dolphins in the season opener, while the Colts, the Titans and Jaguars all lost the opener. Because of that, the Jaguars will be assured of being tied for first with a victory Sunday.

"The fact that it is division game, that's the most important thing," linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "It's a division game against one of our top opponents. We really want to make sure we come out of this one with a win because of how important it is."

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