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Notes and observations: "He's a big problem"


JACKSONVILLE – The challenge is clear and formidable.

Just how big a challenge is the one facing defensive coordinator Todd Wash and the Jaguars' defense on Sunday? Try, "Hall-of-Fame" big.

That's the level Wash considers Philip Rivers – and Wash left no doubt Thursday about his level of respect for the Los Angeles Chargers veteran quarterback.

"He's going to be a guy who's going to put on a gold [Pro Football Hall of Fame] jacket," Wash said as the Jaguars (5-3) prepared to play the Chargers (3-5) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

"He's proven to a lot of different teams he can throw the ball and orchestrate their offense. He's a big problem to deal with. There's no doubt. He's had some good success against us, and we've got to do the best we can to try to contain him."

Rivers, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, has a 6-1 all-time record against the Jaguars, including six consecutive victories in the last seven seasons. He has thrown 18 touchdown passes in those six games, and he hasn't thrown an interception in the last five meetings.

The Jaguars this season lead the NFL in passing defense, scoring defense and sacks. They are third in the NFL in total defense, and have allowed two offensive touchdowns while winning three of their last four games.

"Our scheme has changed, obviously, over the last three or four years," Wash said. "We're going to go in and obviously do what we do. I feel we have some pretty decent players on defense. We're going to do what we do. We'll try to disguise some stuff and all of that, but we're going to play what we play."

All three Jaguars coordinators – Nathaniel Hackett on offense, Wash on defense and Joe DeCamillis on special teams – spoke to the media Thursday.

Notes and observations from Coordinator Thursday:

*Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (illness) was the lone Jaguars player out of practice Thursday, with wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee) working on a limited basis after being out Wednesday. Wide receiver Arrelious Benn (groin) worked full Thursday after working limited Wednesday – and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (groin), guard A.J. Cann (triceps), guard Patrick Omameh (knee) and offensive tackle Jermey Parnell (knee) all worked limited for a second consecutive day. Quarterback Blake Bortles practiced full for a second consecutive day. …

*Dareus, acquired in a trade with Buffalo during the bye week, played 12 of the defense's 37 snaps in his Jaguars debut Sunday against Cincinnati. He registered three tackles and a quarterback pressure, and Wash said his ability as a run defender was quickly evident. "He's a big, physical, powerful man at the point of attack," Wash said. "You saw a couple of plays where you're like, 'Wow, that's really how it should look.' He's going to continue to get more and more playing time, obviously. We look forward to a lot of good things for him and for us as a team." …

*Wash commented on cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who on Wednesday held a media availability in which he – among other memorable quotes – called Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green soft and referred to "Ramsey Island." Wash smiled at the "Ramsey Island" comment, saying "That's the first time I've heard of it. Jalen has confidence. There's no doubt. To play that position in this league, you better have confidence. He's going to continue to be Jalen and I hope he never changes." …

*DeCamillis called Sunday's performance the special team's unit's first complete game of the season. Not only did first-year wide receiver Jaydon Mickens clinch the victory with a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown, kicker Josh Lambo converted a 56-yard field goal. "I thought our cover teams did well, and our return team obviously did well," DeCamillis said. "I'm happy for the kid (Mickens), because he's a self-made guy. He wasn't a punt returner in college. He went out to Oakland and paid his dues that first year [on the Raiders' practice squad last season]. It's paying off for us right now. I'm glad we got him." …

*Hackett discussed the continued improvement shown by Bortles, noting that this is the fourth-year veteran's first full season in Hackett's offense. While Hackett served as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator in the last nine games of 2016, Hackett continued using former offensive coordinator Greg Olson's system during that time. Bortles in the last two games has had two of the better statistical games of his career, but Hackett said Bortles has made decisions at a high level throughout the season. "I think it's about him just getting comfortable in the system, making it very specific in what we want him to do," Hackett said. "He's just going out and executing. … He's definitely made strides. He's just getting comfortable. He's getting that experience. He's understanding what we're asking. When you have a quarterback that has confidence and is comfortable with what you want to do out there, that's when you see a lot of growth." …

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