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No rush to judgment


Aaron Kampman gets it, and said he wouldn't tell fans not to be upset.

"They should be," he said.

Kampman, an 11-year NFL veteran defensive end and a leader of the Jaguars' defensive line, said there's a difference between fans being upset and reality. And Kampman said the latter is two-fold:

No, the Jaguars didn't like the pass rush Saturday in Buffalo. At the same time, they don't believe what they showed in a 35-32 overtime loss – particularly what they showed in the first half – is a true reflection on the team's pass rush overall.

 "We didn't rush to our capabilities against Buffalo," Kampman said. "It is what that is, but I do believe we have the makings of a formidable group."

While preseason results have challenged that belief, Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said what matters is what happens when the regular season begins.

"When you're going to care is when you get into the regular season: Is the quarterback on his back; are you getting off the field on third down?" Del Rio said. "So right now you can think you have everything solved, you can feel great about it or you could be pulling your hair out because it's not going the way you want, but the reality is we're preparing for a season.

"That season will be here shortly and we know the things that we need to get accomplished across the board as a football team to have the kind of year we're set on having.  So for us you stay the course and continue to prepare for those opportunities, and that's where we are."

The Jaguars, who registered 26 sacks last season after finishing last in the NFL with 14 in 2009, have played three preseason games. They have yet to register a sack, and if it seemed an anomaly after two games, after Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was rarely pressured in the first half it very much has been portrayed as a trend.

"I don't think you can quite judge us on that quite yet," Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "Guys are getting used to each other. One comes up, one goes down. I think they will start coming. Hopefully, they will come in bunches this week."

Around the Jaguars, there is concern, but not panic. While the performance against Buffalo was sub-par, the belief within the team was the pressure was solid against New England in the preseason opener and above average the following week against Atlanta.

Against Atlanta, the Jaguars consistently pressured quarterback Matt Ryan, and while there were no sacks, the defensive front bothered Ryan consistently and got the Falcons off the field on third down more often than not.

"I thought we rushed really well against Atlanta," Kampman said. "We had some opportunities there. You can't sugarcoat Buffalo; we did not rush as well as we had the week before. That wasn't great, but here we have an opportunity this Thursday and obviously we'll be looking forward to trying to remedy that situation."

Still, if the Jaguars don't believe the pass rush to be struggling as much as has been portrayed, that doesn't mean they're satisfied. Not even close.

"We know that pressures and quarterback hits are not enough," Jaguars defensive tackle Tyson Alualu said. "The emphasis amongst ourselves is we need to take the quarterback down; we need to get sacks. That's what we're going for. We practice hard. We're going for it but it takes every single rusher to work as one if we want to be successful. That's what we're going toward."

One issue involves personnel. Kampman, who registered four sacks in eight games last season, has yet to play in three preseason games while returning from a knee injury that ended his 2010 season. Alualu in the Atlanta game registered significant pressure, as did Mincey.

Neither played against Buffalo, and the difference was notable.

"It's not an excuse, but we didn't have all of our pieces in place," Kampman said. "It doesn't matter. That happens sometimes during the season, too. You've still got to get him down."

Said Alualu, "That's what I'm most excited about, for the regular season and even this game. Guys are coming back more healthy. What we can do when everybody is back – we're going to show something special. I definitely feel we're on track. It just takes everyone doing their job.

"All four have to rush as one for us to be successful and take the quarterback down. That's what we're doing, and we're putting an emphasis on it. We'll get there."

Kampman said while he hopes his return will help, "it doesn't matter who is in the there."

"Really in the end we're still playing fundamentals as far as playing technique and hopefully there's not very much of a drop-off from anywhere," Kampman said. "There is a reality of guys who start the game and guys who come in, but everyone is contributing. Hopefully all of the guys coming back, hopefully we can help moving forward and getting better."

Kampman said the Jaguars not only want to improve the pass rush sooner rather than later, they want to have that improvement be more than a one-game situation. While the Jaguars were solid defensively and rushing the passer against Atlanta, Kampman said playing well one week and not doing so the next week isn't acceptable.

"We don't want to have any rollercoasters this year," he said. "Obviously I think our mentality is to try to be as consistent as possible, both on and off the field with everything that we do as we continue to march toward our goals. . . . If you look at the game against Buffalo, definitely there were some things that, we didn't get to the quarterback. . . .

"Now do I think we're a better football team than that defensively? Absolutely. I'm looking forward to making sure that we prove that on the field, but I think I told the guys, one of the things that is a part of mental toughness is being consistent and not being too up or too down, regardless if you play great or regardless if you have a tough day. I think that's what we've worked on building and I think you'll see us come back and have a great showing this Thursday night."

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