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Jaguars face Colts with pride on the line


The record, as Terrance Knighton sees it, is what it is – and can't be changed.

And whatever the record means for the team's preseason goals, the veteran defensive tackle says what has happened in the first half of the season is in a sense secondary to the biggest issue facing Jaguars players this week:

Yes, the Jaguars are struggling. And no, the record isn't what they wanted. But there's a game Thursday, and there are eight games remaining in the season. That means it's time – past time, actually – to play as the team expected.

It's just plain time to play better.

"It's time for the players to do their part," Knighton said Tuesday.

Asked the motivation for Thursday's nationally-televised game with the Colts (5-3), a game the Jaguars enter with a 1-7 record, Knighton replied, "It's pride, most importantly."

"We want to represent this city well, the organization," Knighton said.

Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said part of that is taking advantage of an opportunity Thursday – a prime-time game with much of the nation watching on the NFL Network. The Jaguars have talked in recent weeks about the need to make plays, both big and routine.

Posluszny said Thursday's the time to start.

"You've got to be the guy who's going to go out and make a play to change the game," Posluszny said. "You've got to be the guy who's going to go out and make something big happen, get your teammates fired up and get everyone involved in the game."

Knighton and Posluszny spoke as the Jaguars prepared for their lone nationally-televised game of the season, a game against a division rival that has surprised many by already winning five games a year after finishing 2-14.

The Jaguars, since beating the Colts 22-17 on a late pass in Indianapolis in Week 3, have lost five consecutive games, and have lost four home games this season by a total of 92 points. Those results are in sharp contrast to an off-season in which players spoke of a new beginning and improvement under new Head Coach Mike Mularkey and new owner Shad Khan.

"Ultimately, as players we're auditioning for our jobs," Knighton said. "We just have to get all on the same page. . . You can go out and play hard and do all that, but ultimately, if you're not getting the job done you don't need to be in there.

"We need guys to make plays – the guys that coaches expect to make plays need to make them."

Players said Tuesday that hasn't happened enough this season. The Jaguars have struggled with dropped passes much of the season, and after improving their tackling for several weeks, Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said the team struggled there again in a 31-14 loss to Detroit Sunday.

Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars' second-year quarterback, showed progress in losses at Green Bay and Oakland, but Mularkey said he took a step back in the first half this past week before improving in the second.

"There's always internal pressure," Gabbert said. "Everybody wants to play well at a high level every week. We're pretty competitive people. We know we didn't play up to our potential last week. We have to go out and do that. Luckily, we have a short week and play right away."

The short week was a topic as players continued preparations Tuesday. Preparation was condensed, and rather than Tuesday being a day off, there was a full day of meetings and practice. The team held an evening walkthrough Monday night.

"Obviously, it's hard," defensive end Austen Lane said. "At the same time, we're pros so we know how to take care of our bodies. We know what we need to do. The Colts are going through the same thing, so it's not like we're by ourselves. Whatever team prepares better in a shorter amount of time is going to win this game."

And as Knighton and other players see it, there's no reason that team shouldn't be the Jaguars – and not just because they won in Indianapolis in Week 3. Asked if the Jaguars still believed they should be winning, Knighton said, "Absolutely."

"We feel like the record should be different," Knighton said. "We feel like we have the guys in here who can have a winning team here, who can win a division title. Things just haven't been going that way, so we either need to find a way to build some momentum going into the offseason or just have something we can ride on throughout the season."

And with a rare opportunity on a national stage at hand, Knighton said there's no time like now to change a lot of what hasn't gone right in the first half of the season.

"Playing on a national stage, you obviously need to go out there and perform well," Knighton said. "We've had games where it felt bad. We lost to San Diego on national television real bad and we don't want to feel that way again.

"Playing at EverBank should be a place where we want to come and play and have the advantage. It hasn't been that way. We have to find a way to get this going, and the onus is on the players."

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