The Jaguars are hurting. Really hurting.
The full extent of that hurt isn't immediately known, but what is known is they won't be at full strength when they visit one of the NFL's most-historic venues this weekend.
Maurice Jones-Drew is out for Sunday. That much is certain.
What's not as certain, despite national reports regarding his shoulder injury, is the status of quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who left Sunday's loss to Oakland in the first half.
Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said Monday Gabbert has a chance to play Sunday when the Jaguars visit the Green Bay Packers, and Mularkey said there's even a chance Gabbert can take his normal repetitions in practice. There has been nothing official to dispute that.
As for Jones-Drew, he sustained a foot injury on the first play against Oakland. Despite several attempts to retape the area, he could not return. Mularkey on Monday said Jones-Drew will not play against Green Bay, and said while it's possible he could miss extended time there is not yet a timetable on his return.
Injuries will be a theme through the week, with Gabbert's status likely a daily storyline, and the absence of Jones-Drew makes an already daunting task Sunday even more so.
The Packers are good. Really good. They won the Super Bowl following the 2010 season, went 15-1 last season and though they are just 4-3 this season, they have played well in recent weeks. An argument also can be made they should be 5-2, having lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the well-chronicled game that ended with a controversial call on a Seattle touchdown in the end zone. The Packers have struggled to run this season, but while they are ranked just 10th in the NFL in passing, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of the NFL's top quarterbacks and has thrown 19 touchdown passes with just four interceptions. While the Packers remain a favorite to contend for the Super Bowl, they have a relatively small margin for error, being a game and a half behind the Chicago Bears and a half game behind Minnesota in the NFC North.
The game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., will be broadcast regionally on CBS and locally on WETV CBS 47 (Channel 6) with Greg Gumbel on play-by-play and Dan Dierdorf on analysis.
Early matchup to watch
Aaron Rodgers versus Jaguars secondary. This is a little broader than most of our matchups, but stopping Rodgers – or at least slowing him down – is a lot more than just one player. He is capable of throwing multiple touchdowns in rapid-fire succession, and is among the NFL's hardest quarterbacks to intercept. The defenses that have had success against Green Bay have been effective rushing and pressuring Rodgers. The Seahawks sacked him eight times in a 14-12 Seattle victory, and while that loss was controversial, Seattle was as effective against the Packers' offense as any team has been this season. The Jaguars struggled to rush the passer in the first five games of the season, but with the line closer to full health, they registered two sacks and 12 hits on Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer last week. The Jaguars will need to approach that sort of pass rush against Rodgers.
Player to watch
Rashad Jennings. With Jones-Drew out at least a week, the focus in the Jaguars' backfield turns to Jennings. It's a chance for which Jennings has waited for three seasons, and this is his time to take advantage. Jennings was impressive in the preseason while Jones-Drew was holding out, but in limited time in the regular season he has rushed for 90 yards on 34 carries. He also has caught nine passes for 65 yards. Jennings is expected to make his first start since the regular-season opener on Sunday, and he'll do so in a game in which the team needs to reestablish the running game. Jones-Drew rushed for 177 yards in a Week 3 victory at Indianapolis, but followed that with 38 yards rushing against Cincinnati and 56 against Chicago as teams stacked the line and challenged the Jaguars to throw.
What to watch
*The Jaguars' defensive line was as healthy last week as it has been all season, and the unit responded with perhaps its best game of the season. With added depth, the pass rush improved, and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and end Jeremy Mincey played as well as they have all season, as did tackle Tyson Alualu. Rookie Andre Branch also benefitted from playing mostly on passing downs. The storyline to watch here: the status of end John Chick. He practiced last week for the first time this season, and while still on the Physically Unable to Perform list, he could be activated in the next two weeks.
*Chris Prosinski likely will start a second consecutive game in place of safety Dwight Lowery (ankle), who is expected to be out at least another week. After struggling at times in open-field tackling, Prosinski played well against Oakland, according to Mularkey.
*Fullback Montell Owens (shoulder) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) will be monitored after being injured against Oakland Sunday.
*Wide receiver Laurent Robinson remains in the concussion program after missing the last two games. He has not been ruled out for Sunday.
*Outside linebacker Daryl Smith also remains a possibility for Sunday. He has missed the first six games of the season with a groin injury, with his status expected to be updated later in the week. Mularkey said Monday injured reserve is not currently being considered for Smith.