JACKSONVILLE – This isn't about outside narratives.
That's Doug Marrone's approach most weeks, and the Jaguars' head coach said it absolutely applies this week. A must-win game? Is that what people are calling the Jaguars' game this week?
Maybe, but Marrone isn't among them.
"I look at every [game as "must win"] – for me, you go into it like that," Marrone said late Wednesday morning as the Jaguars (4-5) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (5-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I try to address it to the team as, 'You've got to ignore all the stuff on the outside because this league is crazy; you never know what's going to happen.' You only have 16 opportunities. You go in there and give everything you can for each one."
The Jaguars enter Sunday last in the AFC South behind the division-leading Houston Texans (6-3), Colts and Tennessee Titans (5-5). The Jaguars would move into second place with a victory Sunday because they would have head-to-head victories over Tennessee and Indianapolis.
The game also is key to the Jaguars' wild-card playoff hopes, with a loss leaving them two games under .500 with six remaining. With a victory, they would be .500 with games remaining against contending AFC teams such as Oakland, Indianapolis, Tennessee and the Los Angeles Chargers.
"Our focus is on ourselves and playing well and performing well," Marrone said. "I never really talk about must-win until you get to the elimination rounds and the playoffs."
Sunday's game is expected to be the first in which Nick Foles will start at quarterback for the Jaguars since Week 1, when he sustained a broken clavicle in a loss to Kansas City.
Foles, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason, has practiced with the team for the last three weeks. He was around the team since early in the season, working in the film room and in meetings with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II.
Minshew went 4-4 as a starter in Foles' absence.
"Being around is big," Marrone said of Foles' presence around the team since the injury. "You don't want to be absent and all of a sudden come back in and now your role has changed. Nick's role was doing everything he could to support not only Gardner but everyone else around the room – which he did a great job of; everybody will tell you that.
"Being in the locker room with the defensive players and being around them is important. Being around the coaches, being in the meetings, seeing how things are going and how guys are playing, having that feel …
"Nick's the ultimate professional. He was in tune with it. Now, it changes a little bit. Gardner's supporting him. Now, Nick is more vocal of, 'This is what we're going to do. This is what we like.'''
The Jaguars as expected enter preparations for the Colts as healthy as they have been all season, with all active players expected to practice Wednesday. Seven players appeared on the pre-practice injury report as likely to practice limited: wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder), cornerback D.J. Hayden (neck/shoulder), linebacker Leon Jacobs (hamstring), linebacker Quincy Williams (hamstring), center Brandon Linder (shoulder), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) and defensive end Calais Campbell (back).
Westbrook, Hayden, Williams and Jacobs all missed the Jaguars' final game before the bye – a loss to the Houston Texans in London. Linebacker Jake Ryan remains on the Jaguars' reserve/non-football injury list; he is practicing but not listed on the injury report.