JACKSONVILLE – Winning is cool, and what's next would be cooler.
That's how middle linebacker Paul Posluszny looked at a big moment last Sunday, and it's how he and the Jaguars are looking at a season that has been memorable thus far – with potential to get even more so.
"Everything in the NFL is week to week to week, so I haven't thought about it that much," Posluszny said Wednesday as the AFC South-leading Jaguars (9-4) prepared to play the Houston Texans (4-9) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
Here's what Posluszny hasn't allowed himself to think much about this week – that when the Jaguars clinched their first winning season since 2007 with a victory over Seattle this past Sunday, it also clinched his first NFL winning season. He spent his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills before signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in 2011.
"Years from now, when I'm not playing anymore, it will be exciting to know I had the opportunity to experience that as opposed to, 'Yeah, I played in the NFL for a long time, but I never won,''' Posluszny said.
Posluszny's teammates were well aware of Sunday's significance. Following Head Coach Doug Marrone's post-game speech, players called on Posluszny's to break down the team.
"That was fun," Posluszny said. "They know I've never had a winning season before, and they knew how important that was to experience that. To see how much they appreciated it, that was awesome."
For a locker room that holds Posluszny in the highest of esteem, the moment was special.
"It's amazing, because I know it hasn't been because of him [that Posluszny's teams haven't been in the postseason]," Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "He never complained, never was selfish – my kind of guy – and he's never had a winning season. You've got guys who don't care as much as he has riding the waves on winning teams.
"It's B.S., but it's good he's experiencing this. And he's a pivotal piece of our team."
Posluszny, who has started all 13 games at middle linebacker this season, played his highest number of snaps of the season the past two weeks. That's because he was playing in the team's nickel packages with weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith out with a concussion. Posluszny led the Jaguars with 14 tackles in a victory over Indianapolis on December 3, and had two more tackles for loss Sunday.
"Am I happy for him? Yeah, of course I am," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday. "I'm probably more excited about the way he's been playing. He's played really lights out. He's done an outstanding job."
The Jaguars can clinch their first postseason appearance since 2007 with a victory Sunday. That also would be the first playoff appearance of Posluszny's career.
"How awesome is that?" Posluszny said. "For the team and for the organization as a whole to get to that level would be a great thing."
Notes and observations from around EverBank Field Wednesday:
*Smith was cleared from the concussion protocol Wednesday, which means he is expected to play Sunday. Smith missed the last two games after sustaining the injury in a November 26 loss at Arizona. Smith practiced twice last week but was never cleared from the protocol and was therefore unable to play against Seattle. "I chose not to play; as a collective mindset, we thought it was best that I sit more," Smith said, adding that the decision was made easier by Posluszny's level of play and that of rookie weak-side linebacker Blair Brown. "It's not like we were hurting," Smith said. "I know a lot of people said they missed me, but those guys … they more than handled themselves." Added Smith of not playing, "Competitive-wise, it was tough, but longevity-wise it was easy." …
*Posluszny's far from the only Jaguars veteran looking to qualify for the playoffs for the first time Sunday. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, acquired in a trade with the Bills in October, also never has played in the postseason. He spent the first six and a half seasons of his career with the Bills. "When it's in your hands, you don't let it go," Dareus said. "It's right there. I feel like we all feel the severity of how important this is. This is a all-hands-on-deck situation." …
*Rookie running back Leonard Fournette (quadriceps) and rookie left tackle Cam Robinson (back) missed practice Wednesday along with wide receivers Larry Pinkard (concussion) and Allen Hurns (ankle). Quarterback Blake Bortles (right wrist) and wide receiver Marqise Lee (foot) were listed as practicing. …