Fred Taylor will be a central figure on Sunday in a game that could become a celebration of his career.
Taylor will pass Earl Campbell and move into 21st place on the all-time NFL rushing list, if Taylor rushes for 89 yards against the Colts. Against the NFL's 32nd-ranked run-defense, of course, that's a reasonable expectation.
"I have had my problems when you have a team that prior to the game you tell yourself that I know I'm going to have a big game, but then you get out there and a couple of things don't go your way and you find yourself pressing, trying to make things happen that aren't there. I'm just going to treat them with the same amount of respect that I do any other team. I treat them like I'm playing against the Pittsburgh run-defense," Taylor said.
He's had big days against the Colts in the past. He rushed for 107 yards against the Colts in 2004; for 126 and 152 against them in 2003. Sunday, more than ever before, the Jaguars need Taylor to have a big game.
Should that happen and should the Jaguars beat the Colts, a lot of eyes are going to turn in Taylor's direction. He almost has to have a big game against the Colts to have any chance of being selected to play in the Pro Bowl, which is a distinction that's eluded him throughout his career. He's never made it to Hawaii in February, which is surprising when you consider these statistical achievements:
• Taylor is sixth all-time in average rushing yards per game, 85.5. Ahead of him are Jim Brown (104.3), Barry Sanders (99.8), Edgerrin James (92.9), Eric Dickerson (90.8) and Walter Payton (88.0).
• He's fifth all-time in yards-per-carry average, 4.6, among rushers with 2,000-plus rushing attempts.
• Taylor is tied with Dickerson for sixth all-time in total yards from scrimmage per game, 105.5.
Taylor's rushing attempts have been decreased this season, the result of sharing the load with rookie Maurice Jones-Drew. In 2003, for example, Taylor had a 12-game career high of 249 carries. He's at 213 after 12 games this season.
"Fred's having a great year with this approach. He's going to have a very productive year, so it's been good for the team," Del Rio said of Taylor and Jones-Drew sharing the load.
Jones-Drew has carried the ball 95 times for 500 yards and seven touchdowns. He's averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Taylor has rushed for 952 yards as the Jaguars' featured running back. He has a 4.5 average and four touchdowns.
Against the Colts on Sunday, the Jaguars hope the Taylor/Jones-Drew combination will dominate time of possession and limit quarterback Peyton Manning's playing time.
"We want to run the ball. You can game-plan teams differently. They might come in with eight in the box and try to make us beat them with the pass. Whatever they are going to give us, we are going to try to take advantage of it," Taylor said.
The Colts can clinch their fourth consecutive AFC South title with a win over the Jaguars. The Colts clinched at Alltel Stadium in week 14 of last season and are seeking their fourth consecutive win against the Jaguars.
"We want to defend our home turf no matter what's on the line. We take pride in playing at home in front of our fans. It's going to be exciting. We will definitely be ready to go," Taylor said.