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Jaguars optimistic for Sunday's game


Their end-of-the-week attitude has been the same every week; energetic, positive, confident. It's the beginning of the week, or, the day after the game, that has been a downer, and that's been the same for each of the last four weeks, too.

The Jaguars concluded their hard preparation today for their game Sunday against the visiting Washington Redskins, and their spirits were not indicative of a 2-5 team. Of course, they never have been on Friday.

"What's my motivation?" Keenan McCardell said in repeating a reporter's question. "Get us in the playoffs. We have to win one game now."

Then they'll have to win another one, and another one, and so on. In fact, they'd probably have to win all of their remaining games to make the playoffs. Ten wins will usually do it, but because all of the Jaguars' losses are against AFC teams, they probably wouldn't win a tie-breaker. Ten teams in the AFC currently have a better record than the Jaguars.

"Whether you're winning or losing, you have to play the game to the best of your ability," said Tony Boselli, who will face defensive end Bruce Smith Sunday in another of a series of classic battles between the two stars.

Then there's the battles McCardell and the wide receivers are going to face. The Redskins have star cornerbacks in legendary Deion Sanders and second-year man Champ Bailey

"It's a great challenge. You've got to want a challenge like this. Jimmy (Smith) and I feel like we're the best in our business, and they feel like they're the best in their business," McCardell said.

Smith's status for Sunday's game is uncertain. He continues to favor a sore right knee, and his participation Sunday will be a game-day decision.

The Redskins have the league's second-ranked defense, and they are third against the pass and eighth against the run. It is a defense loaded with stars, and the acquisition of Sanders was the crowning jewel.

"He picks his spots to make his plays now. He reads the offense very well. I can tell. He jumps tendencies," McCardell said of Sanders.

The Jaguars' tendency this season has been to struggle against teams such as Washington, which is to say those teams with a strong defense and a ball-control offense. For now, hope springs eternal.

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