The Cleveland Browns didn't make the Jaguars' task this Sunday any easier.
"They'll come back and play hard," coach Tom Coughlin said of this week's opponent, the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens.
To say the Ravens will play hard might be an understatement. On the heels of consecutive losses, the 3-3 Ravens can be expected to have blood in their eye Sunday in Baltimore. The Jaguars are aware of that prospect, which should make Coughlin's job a little easier this week.
"I would expect that we would be extremely focused and motivated," he said of his team, which needs to re-dedicate itself following a 13-10 loss to the previously-winless Buffalo Bills.
At 2-3, the Jaguars are not out of the AFC Central Division title race, but concerns for their current state aren't about the standings; it's about the state of their thin ranks and about their state of mind. Does this team still believe it can compete for the playoffs in a division so powerful that neither of its two overwhelming preseason favorites, Baltimore and Tennessee, is in first place?
"We have to pick ourselves up. We're professionals. Cleveland and Pittsburgh at the top of our division? That's motivation enough. We're going to look back at these last three losses and say we wish we had them back," wide receiver Jimmy Smith said.
Cleveland and Pittsburgh each won Sunday against teams with premium reputations, but neither the Browns nor the Steelers threw the ball impressively. Tim Couch passed for 149 yards and Kordell Stewart for only 100. The Browns and the Steelers won with the grit and determination of their defenses, which posted seven and 10 sacks respectively. They won by physically dominating their opponent.
Why can't the Jaguars win that way?
"That's a good question. You got me on that," Smith said.
It's the way you win in the AFC Central, where physical almost always beats finesse. Coughlin has implored his team to play more physically, as it did in season-opening wins over Pittsburgh and Tennessee. This week, Coughlin may not have to say a word. The Ravens should deliver the message.
"We have to play like we want it," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Coughlin hopes running back Fred Taylor will make significant progress this week in the rehabilitation of his groin injury. "I'm hoping he responds well and then we can make some kind of educated guess. Progress is slow," Coughlin said of Taylor, who will not play this week.
Linebacker T.J. Slaughter (right ankle and right knee) and tight end Damon Jones (shoulder) will be "day to day" decisions.
Meanwhile, Coughlin confirmed that offensive tackle Tony Boselli would be placed on the injured reserve list today, following surgery on his right shoulder a week ago. He will be replaced on the active roster by Derrick Chambers, who was claimed from Tennessee's practice squad.