Jack Del Rio isn't concerned about Peyton Manning's line of scrimmage "gyrations," but Deon Grant thinks he's stolen some of Manning's signals.
"I gotta little tip. I know exactly what it is when he's doing it," Grant said on Wednesday, as the Jaguars began practicing for this Sunday's game against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars and Colts know each other well. Grant, in fact, thinks he knows Manning well enough to know what the quarterback's infamous hand gestures mean.
"Don't fall asleep while you're waiting for him to finish all of his gyrations," Del Rio said when asked what advice he'll give his defense for confronting Manning. "When you watch film, it's the longest film session you're going to have. There's nothing boring about what they're doing. They're lighting people up. I just don't buy into all of the gyrations."
So began a week that will, no doubt, include some shots fired over each team's bow. Actually, that began last week when Jaguars defensive end Reggie Hayward said, "Screw the Colts."
The hype officially began on Wednesday. The 12-0 Colts are chasing an undefeated season and Sunday's game at Alltel Stadium is the first of three major tests. The national media will be focused sharply on Jacksonville, where the Colts can clinch the AFC South title and homefield throughout the playoffs with a win, and the Jaguars can inch closer to their first playoff berth since 1999.
"We've earned 9-3; that's a darn good record. We're playing a team that's undefeated. We don't want to win today, we want to win on Sunday. We don't want to get swept away by all of the (hype). If a team doesn't know how to prepare for big games, you can burn out too early and we're not going to do that," Del Rio said.
The Colts won the first meeting between the two teams, 10-3, in the RCA Dome in week two. It was the worst day of Manning's career, 122 yards passing and a 44.0 passer rating, and it was the Colts' lowest points total of the season.
"A lot of people saw what we did and tried to do the same thing but what you have to understand is that's our defense. That may not be something they worked on all training camp," Grant said, referring to the 3-3-5 defensive strategy the Jaguars used in that game.
Manning and Colts Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore will, of course, be prepared for that 3-3-5 strategy should the Jaguars choose to use it again this Sunday. The Colts ultimately defeated that stratagem by running the ball 14 times in a 17-play, 88-yard, game-winning touchdown drive.
"We were physical in the first game and they beat us. It's not that easy," Grant said.
That's where the Jaguars offense enters the picture. If the Jaguars are to have any chance of beating the Colts, the offense must score a lot more than three points, and this time the Jaguars will have some built-in advantages: The game will be played outdoors, on grass and the Jaguars will have star rookie Khalif Barnes at left tackle.
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney terrorized quarterback Byron Leftwich in the first meeting this year. The Jaguars offensive line was helpless against Freeney and company in the RCA Dome din and on its lightning-fast turf. Barnes, who has been a savior for the Jaguars since moving into the starting lineup in week five, will get his first taste of Freeney this Sunday.
"Up there they have that turf and that crowd noise. They still play fast, it's just that they're a step slower on grass," Barnes said.
Freeney has 9.5 sacks this season, but 7.5 of those sacks were in the RCA Dome. He had a sack at San Francisco and a sack at Houston.
In the last two seasons, only eight of Freeney's 23.5 sacks have been on the road and four of those eight have been at Houston. Freeney was shutout four times on the road last season, including at Jacksonville.
"If you're intimidated, you shouldn't be in this league. I respect his game. It's not a part of my demeanor to be afraid of him. Fear? No. Respect? Yes. No fear at all," Barnes added.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars may lose their starting center, Brad Meester, for the season. Meester has sustained a torn biceps muscle and the Jaguars are going to acquire more information about Meester's condition before he decides whether or not to have season-ending surgery. If Meester opts for the surgery, he will be replaced in the lineup by Dennis Norman.
Running back Fred Taylor is "probable" on the Jaguars' injury report with an ankle injury and Del Rio said a decision on Taylor's availability will be made later in the week, as it was last week.
"We'll see how the week goes. We just want to stay away from that emotional decision on Sunday before the game," Del Rio said.