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Monday look-ahead: A chance at history


JACKSONVILLE – Marqise Lee is aware of the numbers.

But while the Jaguars' rookie wide receiver said he knows there is a chance to make at least a small slice of history in the regular-season finale, that's not his concern.

Besides, Lee needs five receptions to make this thing happen.

"It's always hard trying to get five catches, even though five seems easy," Lee said with a laugh as the Jaguars (3-12) began preparing to play the Houston Texans (8-7) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Here's what Lee catching five passes Sunday would mean:

*The Jaguars would become the first team in NFL history with three or more rookies with 40 or more receptions.

*The Jaguars would have four players with 40 receptions in a season for the first time in franchise history.

"We don't look the stats as far as rookie records or anything like that," Lee said. "That being a possibility is great, but that's not the main focus right now. … My main focus is to continue to do the things I've been doing, catching the balls that come to me. I'm not really focused on breaking that record."

Lee, a second-round selection from the University of Southern California, has 35 receptions for 414 yards and a touchdown this season, with rookie wide receiver Allen Hurns – a rookie free agent from the University of Miami – having 49 receptions for 662 yards and six touchdowns.

Rookie wide Allen Robinson – a second-round selection from Penn State – caught 48 passes for 548 yards and two touchdowns before a stress fracture in his foot ended his season after 10 weeks. Veteran Cecil Shorts III has 48 receptions for 510 yards and a touchdown.

Lee missed three games early in the season with a hamstring injury, but has 22 receptions for 273 yards and a touchdown since Robinson was placed on injured reserve.

"Marqise was hurt early in the season, but you see he's in his groove now, and I feel like next year when everyone's healthy we're going to get rolling," Hurns said.

Also around the Jaguars Monday:

*Defensive end Andre Branch said he still hopes to play Sunday. The third-year veteran reserve Leo defensive end has missed seven of eight games with a groin injury sustained against Cleveland October 19. He returned November 30 against the New York Giants, but hasn't played since re-aggravating the injury in that game. "Never give up hope," Branch said. Branch, who has three sacks and nine quarterback hurries in eight games, said he has been improving, and the team said the same late last week – that it remains hopeful Branch can play Sunday. The Jaguars' defensive line has been a team strength much of the season, helping the team register 42 sacks through 15 games. That's tied for fourth-most in the NFL. "We were on that road, then I wasn't part of it anymore," he said. "I felt like I was playing at a high level, but at the same time you never question God's plan." …

*Defensive tackle Roy Miller said he also hopes to play Sunday despite a knee injury that kept him out of Thursday's victory over Tennessee. Miller has started 28 games since joining the Jaguars, missing the final two games of the 2013 season with a labrum injury. He said the swelling in the knee was too much to play or jog Thursday, and that he should know in the coming day or two his availability for Sunday. "There's a lot of swelling in there that needs to go away," he said. "I have every intention of trying to go. Now, if the coaches can't wait to see that play out I understand. We can't wait and have me say on Thursday, 'I can't go,' and then they have to sign a guy Friday to play. I just have to trust them and the decision they have to make. If they leave it up to me, I'll give it all I can to go." …

*Five-year veteran Sam Young is expected to start at right tackle. That would be his eighth NFL start, and his second in four games against Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. "He's become a force in the NFL, and deservedly so," Young said of Watt, who in his fourth NFL season has 17.5 sacks and – according to Pro Football Focus – 43 quarterback hits and 50 hurries. Young allowed a sack, a hit and a pressure against Houston on December 7, with one of Watt's sacks coming when he touched Blake Bortles down when the rookie quarterback slipped and another coming when Watt came free unblocked. "It's hard to quantify exactly what I want to do, but I have a certain expectation for myself," Young said. "I want to live up to it and I want to be able to see that I've improved."

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