JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's Wednesday Jaguars observations: Free safety Tashaun Gipson on playing spoiler role Sunday, defensive end Calais Campbell on pressuring Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, more
1. Tashaun Gipson is excited about Sunday's opportunity. "It's fun," the veteran free safety said of the Jaguars' potential spoiler role when they play the Houston Texans (10-5) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m. The Texans can clinch the AFC South with a victory. If the Jaguars (5-10) win, the winner of Sunday night's Indianapolis-Tennessee game will win the South with Houston making the postseason as a wild-card entrant. "Playing a spoiler is bittersweet," Gipson said. "It means you obviously have no chance (to make the postseason), but it's always good to play The Grinch and ruin somebody else's Christmas. … We could mess up a lot of stuff they've got going on over there. That always will be fun." Said defensive end Calais Campbell: "The biggest thing is just being consistent and finishing strong. They're playing to win the division. I don't like that. Not on my watch. If we can prevent it, we will."
2. While Campbell leads the Jaguars in sacks, he knows that may not be the case by season's end. His nine sacks lead the team by one ahead of second-year veteran Yannick Ngakoue – and Campbell said he believes both numbers could increase Sunday. Campbell said the key for both players is limiting the Texans' run offense enough to force Houston into passing situations. The Texans have been vulnerable in that situation this season, allowing quarterback Deshaun Watson to be sacked a league-high 56 times. "He can have a monster game this week," Campbell said of Ngakoue. "I want it for him. So can I – if we handle our business and shut down the run. He [Watson] the most-sacked quarterback in football. We have our hands full making sure we shut down the run first, but we can make some stuff happen." Campbell led the Jaguars with 14.5 sacks last season and Ngakoue had 12.
3. Gibson said while he doesn't know the future, he hopes the Jaguars' defense remains as together as possible moving forward. "That would be ideal, to keep this defense intact," Gipson said. "Understanding how this league works, you always say, 'The locker room will never look the same.' We understand certain guys won't be back; that's just the nature of the business." The Jaguars' defense, after ranking second in the NFL in yards allowed last season, is ranked fifth this season. Salary-cap considerations are expected to force some degree of change defensively. The team released veteran safety Barry Church earlier this month and veterans such as Gipson, cornerback A.J. Bouye, Campbell, tackle Malik Jackson and tackle Marcell Dareus along with linebacker Telvin Smith have high cap figures moving forward. "Younger guys coming up, you have to take care of those guys – and they're very deserving," Gipson said. "Once you get a little older, you understand how this league truly works. Older guys who get big contacts, we're not in control of a lot of things other than making every snap count. That's what it's really about. Guys shouldn't be focused on who's going to be here next year, because no matter what's done certain things are set in stone at the end of the year. This time of year is always a bit different because guys you've built relationships with for the past three or four years won't be here next year. That's just part of the business."
4. DJ Chark Jr. believes he will play Sunday. "That's the plan," the rookie wide receiver said Wednesday. Chark, the Jaguars' second-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, has missed the last five games with a quadriceps injury but practiced full Wednesday. The Jaguars opted not to place Chark on season-ending injured reserve in recent weeks so he could get additional repetitions late in the season. Chark, one of the team's top special teams players in the first 10 games of the season, has 14 receptions for 174 yards this season. "It was my first time ever missing a game because of injury," said Chark. "It was something I had to adjust to. I just want to finish this [season] out pretty strong." Running back Leonard Fournette (foot/ankle) and quarterback Cody Kessler (right shoulder) practiced limited Wednesday and kicker Josh Lambo (right groin), Bouye (toe) and right tackle Josh Wells (concussion) missed practice.