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Open Locker Room: A game that matters


JACKSONVILLE – Roy Miller is uncertain for Sunday. Real uncertain.

But while that's true, the Jaguars' veteran defensive tackle said he's doing whatever possible to play in the 2014 regular-season finale. Miller said the reason is simple:

There's a football game Sunday, and he's a football player.

Why wouldn't he try to play?

"It's the last one – I want to go out there and finish," Miller said as the Jaguars (3-12) prepared to play the Houston Texans (8-7) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Such was the mood around EverBank Field Tuesday.

Not every player is playing through as severe an injury as Miller, who missed last Thursday's game with a knee sprain, but the consensus is clear:

While the Jaguars have long since been eliminated from the postseason, and while the offseason awaits at game's end, Sunday's game matters. And it matters very much.

"I think it's just important," Bradley said. "We're focusing on this week like it's any other week. Obviously, being a divisional opponent we want to go in and execute a game plan and offense the way you would if we were preparing to be the headed to the playoffs or anything like that.

"We want to go in and finish the season on the right foot."

The Texans enter Sunday with a chance to make the playoffs as a wild-card entrant. They can do so with a victory over the Jaguars if the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Diego Chargers in Kansas City and the Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore.

The latter two games are also on Sunday at 1 p.m.

But while the Jaguars indeed have a chance to eliminate a division rival from the playoffs, players said that's not a primary goal.

"If you think about it, yeah, you can have that mindset," defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "Our job is to go out and earn victory whether that's knocking them out, or if they're already eliminated. No matter what the circumstances, our job is to go out and try to earn victory.

"I think will make it that much more sweeter not only for the team but for the organization and the fan base, but as players, we're going out to win the game."

"We'll have a better idea Friday." - HC Bradley on if Roy Miller will play Sunday. More to follow: — Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) December 23, 2014

Also around the Jaguars on Tuesday:

*The Jaguars had what Bradley called a "solid, workman-like" practice, and Bradley said he could see the benefit of four days between extensive work after a victory over Tennessee last Thursday. "I thought it was really good as far as health for our team," Bradley said. "Guys feel better. Their bodies feel better and that's the main thing at this time of the year." …

*The Jaguars did not release an official injury report because teams are not required to do so on Tuesdays. Defensive end Andre Branch (groin) and Miller remained the primary injury concerns, with neither working during Tuesday's drills.  Defensive end Tyson Alualu missed practice for personal reasons, but attended meetings in the morning. …

*Bradley said the team plans to let Miller prepare and try to play Sunday, and that more should be known on Friday. "We are going to see how he is at the end of the week," Bradley said. …

*Asked why let Miller try to play through the injury, Bradley said, "Because it's Roy. He's really competitive and he wants to play so I think it's more on us just to see how much he comes back. That's where the extra couple of days for him have been beneficial. I think we will be cautious with him but I know he wants us to be patient with him and see how he feels on Friday." …

*Bradley said the team would like Toby Gerhart to continue to get an increased workload Sunday. The veteran running back has started the last two games, and while he sustained a rib contusion Thursday against Tennessee, he practiced Tuesday. "The more carries he gets it seems like he gets it going a little bit more," Bradley said of Gerhart. "The plan now with the three running backs that we have would be ultimately to get him more carries."  …

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