JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's notes and observations from Wednesday with Jaguars LB Telvin Smith talking greatness, QB Blake Bortles talking RB Leonard Fournette and HC Doug Marrone talking Tennessee Titans:
1.One of the Jaguars' unquestioned leaders unquestionably likes where the Jaguars stand after two games. For linebacker Telvin Smith, that's more than being 2-0; he also likes this team's day-to-day and week-to-week approach. "Love and dedication, I'm telling you – and hard work – is driving this team and is going to keep driving this team and pushing this team until we get the ultimate goal," Smith said. He smiled when asked if the Jaguars were unique in that approach. "It's tough, because I've been on great teams," said Smith, who played on a state championship team at Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes High School before playing on Florida State University's BCS National Championship team in 2013. "Every level I've been on, I've been blessed; even my boys club team was great. I've been blessed to be on great teams, but this is the feeling I've gotten on those teams; I will say that. It's stuff that just comes together and the team forms. That's what this team has done."
2.Running back Leonard Fournette worked on a limited basis Wednesday after missing Sunday's victory over the New England Patriots with a hamstring injury. Fournette was one of three Jaguars players working limited Wednesday, with the others being guard A.J. Cann (triceps) and right tackle Jermey Parnell. "He looked good," Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said of Fournette. "Just watching him, it looked like he was Leonard. He was flying around, making some good plays. He got some touches and looked good." Bortles threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns Sunday and has thrown nine touchdowns with one interception and a 323-yard average in four career games with Fournette not playing. "I don't know if you can say it's because Leonard is not out there," Bortles said. "We have had big games throwing the ball when Leonard has been in there. I think there is definitely more of an emphasis on throwing the ball when Leonard is not in there. We can't do some of the stuff that our offense is built around doing when he isn't healthy and in there. … More so than anything, it is guys stepping up and wanting to kind of pick up the slack for not having Leonard out there. When we know he's not going to be out there, that is a big part of our game plan. He is a big part of our team and our offense, so we know we have to step up our game and play better to make sure we're picking all of that up."
3.Titans running back Derrick Henry averaging 2.9 yards per carry this season doesn't mean he's not a major threat – and concern for the Jaguars' defense Sunday. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner for the University of Alabama who played at Yulee (Fla.) High School near Jacksonville, rushed for 92 yards with a 17-yard touchdown on 14 carries in a 37-16 Titans victory over the Jaguars in Week 2 last season. While he rushed for just 51 yards on 28 carries in the Titans' 15-10 Week 17 victory over the Jaguars in Nashville last season, his one reception in that game went for a 66-yard touchdown. Marrone called Henry an excellent runner who has made the Jaguars miss tackles in the past. "We're going to have to do a good job getting people to the ball carrier," Marrone said. The Titans used Henry in the Wildcat formation five times last week in a 20-17 victory over the Houston Texans, with Henry rushing four times for 17 yards while taking direct snaps. "We'll have to figure out what the best personnel is for us and the best plan is to stop it," Marrone said of the formation. "Obviously it's on tape, so we'll be able to see something knowing that there will be some things that will be new out of it."
4.The Titans' health will be major storyline this week, with quarterback Marcus Mariota missing Sunday's game with an elbow injury. Marrone said that will mean preparing for Mariota and backup Blaine Gabbert, who played three seasons for the Jaguars after the team made him the No. 10 overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2011 NFL Draft. "We have to make sure we're sound defensively in everything we do," Marrone said. "We have to protect the field because it's wide open. They do a nice job in stretching you, putting you in space, misdirection. It will be a big challenge." Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan was limited in practice Wednesday after missing the victory over the Texans with a concussion and right tackle Jack Conklin missed the first two games of the season rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in January in the postseason. "You're talking about one of the better lines in the league," Marrone said. "Even without those guys, they have played extremely well with the three inside guys. They're big, strong and powerful. They lead the league in the least amounts of hits and pressures. It's going to be a challenge for us up front."