When it comes to outside talk, Marcedes Lewis said he doesn't listen.
Lewis, the Jaguars' Pro Bowl tight end, said while that's true when things are going well, it's just as much the case these days – with the Jaguars' offense struggling and with his receptions and numbers down from last season.
Lewis said if that's a formula for criticism, that's perhaps to be expected.
But it's not something about which he worries.
"I'm cooler than the other side of the pillow, man," Lewis said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-5) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (4-1) at EverBank Field Monday at 8:30 p.m.
Lewis, after catching 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first Pro Bowl season a year ago, has caught 10 passes for 116 yards in five games this season.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said early in the week the Jaguars need to utilize Lewis more efficiently, with the Jaguars connecting with Lewis twice in eight or nine plays on which he was targeted in a loss to Pittsburgh Sunday.
"He's one of our better players," Del Rio said. "We're looking to him. We've got to become more efficient in utilizing him. It's good for us, it's good for him, it's good for the quarterback. The tight end is friendly to the quarterback and we've made efforts to try to get him involved and we just haven't connected nearly often enough. That's something we'll continue to work on."
Lewis long has had a reputation as one of the NFL's better blocking tight ends, and Del Rio said that area remains a strength.
"I think he's got a chance to be a good player overall and I think last year he played as one of the more dominant players at his position in the league," Del Rio said. "We just haven't quite got him going this year the way we were able to get him going last year and maintain it.
"That's something we're aware of, we're trying to get it going."
But if observers are wondering about Lewis' productivity, Lewis said he has heard only a limited amount of such talk.
"This is the second time I've heard about it," he said. "That's good. I've got all the right people around me, keeping me up, keeping me motivated. I'll get myself through it.
"I'm good right now. My energy is always going to be good whenever I can wake up and play a game that I love to do. Sometimes you go through spells where things might not go your way all the time. You have to see yourself through it. All the great players and great athletes and successful people in the world – you have to fail first to be successful.
"That's something I understand. If you work your trade hard every day and move on to the next play, eventually you're going to shine through. I believe in that."
Also around the Jaguars Thursday:
*Cornerback Derek Cox returned to practice on a limited basis after missing the last three games with a groin injury and said he expects to play Monday. "I'm pleased," said Cox, who has missed four of six games this season. "It's good to be back out there on the grass, playing ball. It's only Thursday and I've got two more practices to make it through, but it's a good start."
*Jaguars right tackle/left guard Eben Britton said despite missing practice Thursday the back injury that kept him out of Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh has improved since Monday. Britton sustained a herniated disc in his back in training camp, and the back unexpectedly tightened up Sunday morning. Because left tackle Eugene Monroe was unavailable to start because of a shoulder issue, rookie Cameron Bradfield started at left tackle and veteran Guy Whimper started at right tackle. "On that note, yeah, I'm going to push to play, but at the same time I have to communicate about how I'm feeling so we don't have to do that," he said.
*Britton was one of two players out of practice Thursday for the Jaguars. Safety Courtney Greene missed with a hamstring injury.
*Jaguars linebacker Clint Session practiced limited after missing Sunday's game with an elbow injury. "With this kind of injury, you want to see how your body responds to it," Session said. "Today was a good start. I got a chance to get my feet back moving again and start moving around. Now, it's how does the body respond to it and it is going to help the team or is it not going to help the team?" Session said he feels better than this time last week. "That's a plus, to know we're moving up," Session said. "It's definitely a possibility we'll be out there."
*Session and Cox were among 13 players working on a limited basis. The others were defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee), fullback Greg Jones (not injury related), running back Maurice Jones-Drew (nir), defensive end Aaron Kampman (nir), cornerback Rashean Mathis (nir), left tackle Eugene Monroe (shoulder), wide receiver Kassim Osgood (hamstring), running back Montell Owens (knee), guard Will Rackley (knee), guard/center Jason Spitz (quadriceps) and right tackle Guy Whimper (hip).
*Del Rio said he expects five or six players out this past week could return against Baltimore. The Jaguars were missing Britton, Monroe, Cox, Lewis, Osgood, Spitz and Session Sunday. "We'll have to see how the week goes," Del Rio said.
*Recently re-signed wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker said he is shocked that the Jaguars are 1-5. "I am," he said, "because they're playing way better than that record shows."
*Del Rio said it's too early to know if tight end Martin Rucker will be ready to play by Monday. He was signed off Dallas' practice squad Wednesday.
*Del Rio said the Ravens may be the toughest defense the Jaguars have played this season. The Ravens are ranked third in the NFL in total defense, while their opponents the last two weeks – Cincinnati and Pittsburgh – are ranked second and first, respectively. Baltimore, he said, is "probably the best of the three. This one's even better." *Del Rio said he expects defensive end John Chick to get increased snaps Sunday. Chick had two sacks and registered one sack in a little more than 10 plays Sunday against Pittsburgh.