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Looking ahead to the Texans


Mike Mularkey said he liked the Jaguars' approach this week.

He likes their mindset, too, and the Jaguars' first-year head coach said that gave him a good feeling Friday afternoon as the team wrapped up its final day of full preparations for perhaps their toughest test of the season to date.

The 8-1 Houston Texans? On the road?

The NFL's No. 2-ranked defense and a team many believe will contend for the Super Bowl?

All of those factors make Sunday's game in Houston a tough test, but Mularkey said during what he considered a good week of preparation you wouldn't have known the Jaguars were a team few nationally expect to win Sunday.

"It's a different game," Mularkey said as the Jaguars (1-8) prepared to play the Texans at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m. "What happened previously is irrelevant with what happens this game, totally irrelevant. They know that and they're prepared."

Mularkey said he could tell that from how players responded in team meetings Friday.

"They're definitely prepared for the game," Mularkey said.

The Jaguars on Friday announced they will definitely be without four key players for the game, including running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew, the NFL's rushing leader a year ago, will miss a fourth consecutive game with a foot sprain, according to the Friday injury report. They also will be without fullback Greg Jones (hip), safety Dwight Lowery (ankle) and cornerback Rashean Mathis.

Rashad Jennings has started the last three games for Jones-Drew, with Chris Prosinski starting for Lowery and Aaron Ross starting for Mathis.

"The mentality is, 'One man goes down, the next man is up,''' cornerback Derek Cox said. "We're not forgetting about the man who is down. We're encouraging him and waiting to get him back, but we realize somebody has to step up and fulfill that role. As a player, we all know that.

"The good thing about the way we practice here is it doesn't matter if you're on Marauders (scout team) or first team, the way we practice allows guys to develop. You're never worried about anybody. If you are here, whether you're practice squad or active roster, you're here because you can play."

Cox, who missed the Jaguars' loss at Green Bay October 28 with a back injury, worked limited before the Jaguars' last two games, but practiced on a full-participation basis all week. He was not on the injury report for the first time since before Green Bay.

"From a physical standpoint, practicing during the week gives you the opportunity to know and feel first-hand what you're going to experience during the game," Cox said."You get that physical exertion, which obviously plays a big role in what we do. That's a plus, to get the physical aspect of it.

"It's the NFL, so you're grinding all year. It comes with the territory at this point."

Mularkey on Friday also said the NFL office had informed the Jaguars that two penalties called against the team in a loss to the Colts last Thursday were indeed legal hits. The plays involved a chop block called against guard Mike Brewster and a penalty called against wide receiver Justin Blackmon for an illegal block.

Mularkey said despite those penalties being legal there still will continue to be an emphasis on not committing unnecessary penalties. The Jaguars had six personal foul penalties against the Colts, including the ones against Brewster and Blackmon.

"We take a lot of pride that that's going to help us win at some point," Mularkey said.

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