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Open Locker Room: Joeckel expected to play


JACKSONVILLE – The left tackle situation is a lot clearer than expected.

As it turns out, the situation at linebacker is coming into focus, too, with a couple of changes appearing likely there on Sunday.

Luke Joeckel, the Jaguars' starting left tackle in the first eight games of the season, was listed as probable on the team's injury report Friday, with all indications he will start when the Jaguars visit the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

"I'd be shocked if we didn't (have Joeckel Sunday)," Head Coach Gus Bradley said as the Jaguars (1-7) prepared to play the Bengals (4-2-1) at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Joeckel, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, left a loss to Miami last Sunday with a concussion, and after missing practice Wednesday returned on a limited basis Thursday. He worked full in practice Friday.

"I missed out on Wednesday's practice, but I've done the walkthroughs and all that stuff," Joeckel said. "I feel good to go. I've watched plenty of film, so I'm ready to go."

The Jaguars' defensive lineup for Sunday also became clearer Friday, with cornerback Dwayne Gratz listed as probable on the injury report after working limited throughout the week with elbow and groin issues. Gratz said Friday he expects to play Sunday.

The Jaguars also could have a significant change at linebacker Sunday.

Jeremiah George, signed off the New York Jets' practice squad September 23, is expected to have an expanded role and could start at middle linebacker. If that happens, J.T. Thomas – who started at middle linebacker last week with starter Paul Posluszny (torn pectoral) having gone on injured reserve – would return to the Otto linebacker spot. Thomas started at Otto Weeks 3-7.

Dekoda Watson, who started at the Otto in Week 8, is questionable with a hamstring injury, with Bradley saying the decision to give George an expanded role was more about George earning an opportunity than anything else.

"He's caught our attention," Bradley said. "His speed, his instincts all caught our eye. We were waiting for him to see how well he could pick up the defense. He showed really well last week, then had another good week on top of it. He's caught our eye."

Bradley added that Thomas has proven he can play well at the Otto.

"With Dekoda with a hamstring injury, we're going that direction," Bradley said of starting George in the middle and Thomas at the Otto.

Also around the Jaguars Friday:

*Cornerback Will Blackmon (finger) and defensive end Andre Branch (groin) missed practice and will be out Sunday. Blackmon is out an extended period and Branch is expected to miss about five more weeks. Neither is expected to make the trip to Cincinnati or to London the week afterward. …

*Safety Sherrod Martin is expected to play the nickel Sunday with Blackmon having played there the first eight weeks of the season. It will be Martin's first extensive playing time since sustaining anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament injuries in December 2012 while playing with Carolina. Martin, a second-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft from Troy, started for Carolina in 2010 and 2011. He has played five snaps this season. "When you get your opportunity, you have to step in and capitalize on it," Martin said. "You just have to put your best foot forward." …

*Cornerback Aaron Colvin (knee) worked limited a third consecutive day. He remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list, with the Jaguars having another week to decide whether to activate him or move him to injured reserve. "His big thing right now is he needs reps although he did show up pretty good again today," Bradley said. "It's hard to go out there when he was rehabbing it to get all the different looks, so he's getting all the looks now. I think with every movement pattern he shows he's gaining confidence in it. I think he's going in that direction." …

*Tight end Marcedes Lewis (high-ankle sprain) worked limited a third consecutive day. He remains on the injured reserve-designated to return list and can play beginning November 23 at Indianapolis. …

*Wide receivers Allen Hurns (ankle) and Cecil Shorts III (groin) worked full, with Shorts having worked full all week and Hurns having been limited Wednesday. Each was listed as probable. …

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