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Measuring-stick game?


It's the kind of high-profile opponent that could earn the Jaguars early-season respect. A win over the 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL's newly-ordained power team, would also allow the Jaguars to remain tied for the AFC South lead with the Indianapolis Colts, who host the 0-4 Cincinnati Bengals.

Fans and media are interested in using this Sunday's game as a measuring stick of how far along the Jaguars are in their rebuilding program. Is their 2-1 record a legitimate indicator of the team's prospects for 2002?

"We're still trying to find out how good we are," quarterback Mark Brunell admitted. "Are we good? I think we have the potential to be good. I can say that."

Coach Tom Coughlin and his players have taken a very conservative approach in previewing the importance of the game. They have not allowed themselves to be lured into a "big game" proclamation in just the fourth game of the season.

"It's early in the season, but we're making some progress. Measuring stick, non-measuring stick? They're a good football team and I think we're a good football team," Coughlin said in response to a reporter's question.

Of course, if the Jaguars win they may change their tune. There's no denying what a win would do for the Jaguars' national image.

"If we beat this team, we're going to get some respect in the league," wide receiver Patrick Johnson said.

The circumstances are favorable for the Jaguars, who list only Tony Brackens, Kyle Brady and Larry Smith on the team's injury report, and all three are "probable" to play Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Eagles are somewhat battered. Twelve players are listed on their injury report, and one of them is star defensive tackle Corey Simon, "doubtful" with an ankle sprain.

"Big challenge for us. Philly has it all; one of the best if not the best team in the league," said Brunell, who was nearly traded to Philadelphia from Green Bay in 1995.

Brunell agrees the Jaguars have experienced a new-found enthusiasm this year. "It comes from winning. It comes from being young. But it's still early, We're 2-1. We were 2-1 last season and it didn't end up the way we wanted," Brunell said.

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