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More than one game


The difference is a game and at the same time, it is more.

As Brad Meester sees it, therein lies much of the importance of the Jaguars' game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, a game with meaning beyond the standings.

It's the day former running back Fred Taylor will be inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars.

It's a day when many alumni players will be in attendance.

It's the final day teal will be a primary uniform color.

All of those will be periphery issues during the Jaguars' second home game of the season, but of primary importance is that at game's end, the Jaguars will be 1-3 or they will be 2-2.

Yes, the difference is a game in the standings. And at the same time, it is more.

A lot more.

"It's a huge difference," Meester said as the Jaguars (1-2) prepared to play the Bengals (2-1) at EverBank Field Sunday at 4:05 p.m. "Two and two is a huge emotional boost for a team to get back to even, get back to .500. Not only that, you start putting consecutive wins together and it would be huge. Two and two will have a huge impact on this team compared to being 1-3.

"One and three wouldn't be impossible, but it would make a huge difference."

The Jaguars, after a season-opening overtime loss to Minnesota and a 20-point loss to Houston in the home opener two weeks ago, rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat the Colts last week. That was the Jaguars' first victory under Mike Mularkey.

Mularkey's early weeks as head coach have been marked by injuries around the roster, but this week, the team began to show early signs of nearing full health.

Left guard Eben Britton and right tackle Cameron Bradfield, each of whom sustained ankle injuries against the Vikings, practiced this week, and are listed as probable. If the duo plays, the Jaguars will have their starting line for the first time since the opener.

Wide receiver Laurent Robinson, who missed practice twice this week with a concussion, is also probable, as are two others players – fullback Montell Owens and cornerback Kevin Rutland – who sustained concussions last week. Running back Rashad Jennings returned from a knee injury and is likely to play, while linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) and defensive end George Selvie (knee) are expected to miss another week.

As is the case on offense, the defense appears to be nearing full health, with cornerbacks Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis likely to start a second consecutive game and defensive end Austen Lane likely to play a key role after missing the first three games with a foot injury.

"The thing about it is defensively we're always optimistic and positive," Cox said. "Regardless of the week, that's going to remain the same. We're going to be positive about what we do, unselfish. You can count on that, and that's how we look at it, so we believe we're going to be successful defensively."

The Jaguars in beating the Colts held rookie Andrew Luck and the Colts to three second-half points, but Mathis said after allowing 10 first-quarter points to the Texans in Week 2 and 14 first-points against Indianapolis, the objective is to start quickly.

"We have to learn to start fast as a defense," Mathis said. "We have to give our offense more opportunities to touch the ball. We can't keep allowing long drives. Overall, it comes back on us. We have to execute better than the other offense and get off the field on third downs."

Mathis last week helped set a tone for the week leading to the Colts' game, saying that while the Jaguars were doing things right under Mularkey they had to change the conversation with a victory. This week, he said there's only one way to make that first victory matter.

"Win next week," Mathis said. 'That's the only way – to get more than one. You have to have winning streaks in this league. It has to start somewhere. Hopefully, ours started Sunday. We have to understand what we did well, and what we didn't' do well and correct thos things. And win.

"We have to win at home. You always want to back up something good with something good. You want to be consistent. It won't take away the win (to lose), but it would put a dent in the momentum we're trying to build."

And yes, Sunday's game is about a game in the standings, but at the same time, it's about so much more.

 "It's huge, obviously, because that's the name of the game, to win," Cox said. "For us to follow that up, get No. 2 and start a streak is positive momentum. That momentum can carry you."

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