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Motivation key for Jaguars this week


Alltel Stadium will have empty seats, the game is expected to become the first regular-season TV blackout in franchise history, and the Jaguars' opponent is a team they beat 48-0 last December. Motivation would seem to be a difficult chore this week.

"You have to take everybody seriously," wide receiver Keenan McCardell said. "You don't worry about a letdown. We're not good enough, yet, to worry about a letdown. We were a 7-9 team last year. We have to establish ourselves."

Coach Tom Coughlin is obviously stressing those points to his team this week, as they prepare for Sunday's game against visiting Cleveland. Most expect the Jaguars will summarily win their third game of the season, and complete a sweep of September before taking to the road for the first time.

Coughlin's words of caution are: "We're 2-0. It's a great start. The way we got there was by playing hard," he said. "I think we have a serious approach by our players."

If there is anything about Sunday's circumstances that will get the Jaguars' attention, it's that star running back Fred Taylor will be out of action due to a severe groin injury he suffered in this past Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans. Taylor was on crutches as he spoke to reporters today.

"Like the hamstring injury (in 1999), it's a muscle pull. Sometimes it can trick you into thinking it's healed. You never know when you are completely healed with a muscle injury. I ask how it happened. I was in great shape," Taylor said.

In '99, Taylor suffered a hamstring injury in the second game of the season. Twice he attempted to play before the injury was healed, and it cost Taylor seven games' worth of action. This year, he is bound and determined to be patient.

"I want to be able to return to the form I left," he said. "My style is speed and cutting. I have to be very careful.

"I've been here before. I know how to put this into perspective. I've got to show I'm not down, just to keep my teammates' spirits up. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. I'll be back," Taylor added.

Until he's back, or at least for now, Stacey Mack will replace Taylor. Coughlin said Frank Moreau and Elvis Joseph will also be used at running back.

When asked if having to play without Taylor means the Jaguars will throw the ball more often, Coughlin said: "Not necessarily. We didn't pass more the other day."

Meanwhile, the potential for a Sunday TV blackout remains the major news of the week. Over 6,000 tickets remain to be sold before tomorrow at 4:15 p.m., the blackout deadline. It is almost certain Sunday's game will be a TV no-show in Jacksonville.

"We want the stands full. All I can do is urge them to come. It should be full every week," Coughlin said.

"It's important. It shouldn't be that way," quarterback Mark Brunell said of the blackout potential. "It certainly is an advantage for us if the crowd is there and they're into the game," he said, but he added that "I totally understand; those prices are up there."

The Jaguars' task this week is to not be distracted by the blackout issue and by a game that, on paper, appears to be a mismatch.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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