Tom Coughlin wasn't ruling Fred Taylor out of Sunday's game in Pittsburgh, but he seemed to be penciling Stacey Mack into the Jaguars' starting lineup.
Mack rushed for 69 yards in the second half of Sunday's 30-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, after starting the game on the bench. Mack's second-half performance, which was clearly the deciding factor in the Jaguars' rally from their 13-7 halftime deficit, would seem to have restored Coughlin's confidence in his third-year running back.
"Yes, he did," Coughlin said when asked if Mack had redeemed himself. "I'm certainly impressed by what he did. I'm inclined to go that way," Coughlin added when asked if Mack would be in the starting lineup against the Steelers this Sunday.
Mack was the Jaguars' starting running back in each of the two games that followed Taylor's groin injury in week two. In the second of those starts, Mack fumbled twice in Seattle and took a spot deep in Coughlin's doghouse.
Frank Moreau was the starting running back against the Bengals, but neither Moreau nor rookie Elvis Joseph provided much pop in the running game. Coughlin had no choice but to turn toward Mack and Mack's response left reporters to ask Coughlin today if he might've given up too quickly on Mack.
"Stacey's been around here long enough to understand what he has to do. As I've said, the margin for us is very slight. You can't be careless with the ball. Sometimes it has to be reinforced," Coughlin said.
Meanwhile, fans have been as harsh on Taylor as Coughlin has been on Mack. Taylor has been criticized the last three seasons for being fragile, and the six consecutive starts he's missed this year officially make this the longest he's been sidelined by injury in his four-year career.
"He's injured. He's fighting his way back. Fred will play when he gets medical clearance," Coughlin said. "I'm not ruling this week out. Hopefully, this will be the week it all happens."
Taylor suffered a groin injury in which the muscle was partially torn away from the bone. It is a major injury for a running back and Coughlin was asked if he may have been guilty of painting an unrealistic timetable for recovery. Initially, Coughlin talked of Taylor missing a couple of weeks.
"If I did that, I'm in error. It may take a little longer. It's not his fault and it's not anyone's fault," Coughlin said.
Coughlin gave his players the day off, which has been his trademark following a win. "They won and it's at the end of eight regular-season games. They could use the break," Coughlin said.
Mack certainly did.