Maurice Jones-Drew said there's a chance he can play Sunday.
But how realistic is that possibility? Jones-Drew said that will be known as the week plays out, and Head Coach Mike Mularkey on Wednesday said it remains "questionable" that the three-time Pro Bowl running back will play against New England.
"He's going to run today more than he's run and I just need to see how he feels," Mularkey said Wednesday before the Jaguars (2-12) practiced in preparation to play the Patriots (10-4) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I will be very surprised if he can go out there and run like we want him to run today. I will be very surprised."
Jones-Drew, who has missed the last eight games with a foot sprain, appeared to work limited and on the side in the period of practice open to the media Wednesday. He was listed as not practicing on the practice report.
Mularkey said the plan was to have Jones-Drew run and do more "football" work in practice Wednesday than he had since the injury.
"I'm excited for it, and hopefully things work where I can get out there and play," Jones-Drew said. "We'll see after that. Today is just really to make sure everything is like we thought about the last couple of weeks and to kind of validate some things we've seen. If it's that way, we'll see how it goes throughout the week."
Jones-Drew, who said Wednesday's work was about seeing if he was explosive, and if he could cut, said while just two games remain he wants to play because that's what he does.
"When things get tough, losers tend to quit," Jones-Drew said. "For me, I get paid to play football. If I can be productive, and go out there and help my team, I'm all for it – win, lose or draw; no matter what the record is. But I won't go out there and put people at risk. I've never been that kind of guy.
"I think I have an opportunity to come back, depending on how today goes. I just won't to go out there and put anybody else in jeopardy. This is a dangerous game. If I can't go out and protect our quarterback, help our offensive line and block, I'm not going to go out there."
SMITH COULD PLAY
If appearances are any indication, outside linebacker Daryl Smith will play for the first time this season Sunday.
"Based on his demeanor I think he's going to play," Mularkey said.
Smith, the Jaguars' all-time leading tackler, has been out since early in training camp with a groin injury, but he can be removed from the injured reserve/designated to return list on Saturday.
Smith practiced on Wednesday, and was not included on the practice report because he is not on the active roster.
"We're going to be smart with him, and I told him already today, 'Be careful, we need you,''' Mularkey said. "I think he's been smart. I can tell by his demeanor that he feels good. We're going to gradually advance even further than we did last week with him."
Mularkey said the team is discussing this week how many snaps Smith may be able to play Sunday. The team currently has one roster spot open, which Mularkey said ideally will be used for Smith.
"It can be," Mularkey said. "I'd like it to be."
Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny missed practice Wednesday with a groin injury.
Posluszny, who has not missed a start in two seasons with the Jaguars, was among five players missing practice Wednesday, with the others being Jones-Drew, fullback Greg Jones (thigh), safety Dwight Lowery (foot) and center Brad Meester (foot).
Cornerback Aaron Ross (calf), defensive end George Selvie (concussion), defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (calf), cornerback Derek Cox (foot) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) worked limited.
"I still feel that we are not far away. I've been saying that all along, and I still believe that. It's just the approach from Day One of how guys come to work every day. They enjoy coming in here. They like working. They like each other, and I think they don't want to let anybody down in that locker room. I haven't stepped on the field yet this year on a Sunday that I didn't feel like we had a chance to win. A lot of that is because of the way they approach things and the way the come to work and the way they work in here and on the field."
QB CHAD HENNE
"Offensively, I saw earlier this year and throughout the year they needed leadership and someone to look towards and I've been trying to do the best I can to prep them on film work. I'm kind of one of the people that doesn't get down and always is up and just plays one play at a time."
"It's been tough, because I'm used to playing all the way until January, but there is some good and there is some positive that came out of it. I've been more mentally into the game. When you can't play you have to like think as a coach. I think that's helped my game out a bunch. I just feel like obviously I want to play. Hopefully I'm able to go this week and I guess show the people, you guys, that I can play."
The Jaguars are done practicing in pads this season. The team did not work in pads on Wednesday, and Mularkey said while the team still could practice twice more in pads under the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement he will not work the players in pads again this season. "I feel very good about going out there without them," Mularkey said. "Why this week? Because after last Wednesday's practice, the way we practiced, I said, 'We can go through at this time of the year without the pads if we practice with that kind of pad level and with that kind of speed.' You can get a lot accomplished. A lot goes into it. It's not just one thing or another. There's a lot of thought that goes into it and a lot of communication among the staff." Mularkey said determining whether to work in pads so late in the season is a "Catch 22. As long as we have good pad level and we're smart, we can get a lot done without them. We have learned how to practice late in the year. I think it has been smarter for us."
The Jaguars will practice Thursday and Friday as they prepare for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots at EverBank Field.
*A notable roster move Tuesday was the ascension of wide receiver Mike Brown from the practice squad to the active roster. Brown, a rookie who signed as a free agent shortly after the 2012 NFL Draft, has been on the team's practice squad the entire season after spending training camp with the team. "He has earned it,'' Mularkey said. "If we had named a development player every week who has given us the best look, I could have named him every week. I told him be patient. At some point, that was going to happen. Whether it was this year or another year, it was going to happen just because of the way he gives us a look." *The Patriots, the NFL's No. 1-ranked offense, present many challenges, and Mularkey said one issue is not allowing their high-tempo offense to control pace. "You've got to be careful how you approach it," Mularkey said. "You don't want to go in thinking it's going to be that kind of game, but you do have to have an approach of how you do a little bit of what they do. They control the clock. The number of plays, they have the most plays per game in the NFL. That just keeps the ball away from your offense, so when you do have it you've got to do some things to put points on the board. You can't settle for field goals all the time with this offense."