Notes and observations: 'That's silly'

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JACKSONVILLE – Calais Campbell left no doubt about his respect for the opponent.

"He's the best quarterback ever to play the game," the veteran defensive end said of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Here's what else Campbell made clear Wednesday: The Jaguars aren't content to just be playing Brady and the defending Super Bowl champions Sunday. The idea that the Jaguars are playing with "house money?"

Campbell's not buying it.

"That's silly to me," Campbell said as the AFC South Champion Jaguars (12-6) prepared to play the AFC East Champion Patriots (14-3) in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, Sunday at 3:05 p.m.

"We have earned the right to be here. We have put a lot of time and effort in so this is an opportunity we feel like we deserve and we have prepared for. I can honestly say I expected to be here."

That was a common theme around the Jaguars' locker room Wednesday -- respect for the top-seeded Patriots paired with the idea that a game is to be played.

"Their reputation is what it is," Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack said. "New England deserves all the credit they get. They've been doing it for years, since I was in middle school. You put that in perspective. At the same time, we have to realize you can't get involved in what's surrounding them. You just have to play your game. At the end of the day, all the hype and the hoopla doesn't matter once the ball is snapped.

"We're obviously excited, but we're focused. We have the biggest challenge that we've had all season, and this is the biggest game of our lives. It's do or die."

Campbell called Sunday's game "the greatest stage.'

"They say you have to beat the best to be the best so I can't wait to get out there and try," Campbell said.

Notes and observations from Wednesday around EverBank Field:

*Jack discussed Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and was told that Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said early in the day the best way to defend Gronkowski was for the Patriots not to throw him the ball – or for him to drop it. "Yeah, that'd be cool," Jack said with a smile. "It'd be cool if they didn't throw it to their No. 1 target, but we just have to have a real focused week. Gronk is Gronk. He's 6-feet-8. He's hard to cover. He is what he is. But we have the guys capable of giving him a challenge."…

*The Patriots' red-zone defense versus the Jaguars' red-zone offense is a major matchup this week. New England has been strong in the red zone late in the season, and the Jaguars scored five touchdowns in five possessions there Sunday. Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns said emphasis on the area is evident when watching video of the Patriots. "I think they probably work red zone every day," he said. "Most teams work it one day a week, but every guy knows what they've got to do. It looks like they say, 'OK, we're going to work red zone, but it's going to be zone schemes today and tomorrow it will be man schemes.' They're very disciplined and they know what they've got to do.'' …

*Free safety Tashaun Gipson (foot) and guard Patrick Omameh (illness) were the only Jaguars players not practicing Wednesday; Head Coach Doug Marrone early Wednesday said Gipson has not been ruled out with the injury that kept him from finishing this past Sunday's AFC Divisional Playoff victory at Pittsburgh …

*Quarterback Blake Bortles (right wrist) and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny (abdomen) practiced full Wednesday, with the following players limited on the team's practice report: running back Leonard Fournette (ankle), strong safety Barry Church (shoulder) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (ankle). …

*Campbell on weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith: "He's a natural-born leader. He's very gifted in his ability to inspire. Every time he's getting us hyped, I'm ready to run through a wall. He has that natural gift of gab to inspire people. He has that Ray Lewis ability." …

*Campbell on why Brady is the best ever: "He prepares. He knows everything you want to do. He can literally call it out as soon as you call a play and line up; he knows exactly where you want to go because he knows what you are in. You have to disguise your defense and put pressure on him up front."…

*More Campbell on Brady: "We have to harass him, make him uncomfortable. He is the best player to ever play this game for a reason. But at the end of the day, we have a lot of guys who can make plays so we have to take advantage of opportunities." …

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