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Thursday Notebook: Jaguars vs Texans


Top target

It's no secret that Cecil Shorts has become a favorite target of quarterback Blaine Gabbert.  Gabbert has thrown Shorts' way 39 times in the last four games.  Shorts leads the team in every receiving statistical category with 29 receptions for 561 yards (19.3 avg.) and four touchdowns.  His 19.3 average per reception trails only Cleveland's Josh Gordon (21.9) and Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson (21.4) among NFL leaders.

The former Mount Union standout has eclipsed 100 receiving yards in two of the last three games and is the first Jaguars receiver since Mike Sims-Walker in 2010 to have at least two 100-yard receiving games in a season.  Shorts' 561 yards are 101 yards more than the club's 2011 leader (Marcedes Lewis, 460). 

Shorts has brought a vertical threat to the Jaguars offense as he leads the team with 10 catches of 20-plus yards including three touchdowns.   He has a reception of 25 or more yards in seven of nine games.  His three receiving touchdowns of 20-plus yards are tied for the third-most in the NFL.  Shorts leads all AFC South receivers in touchdowns and receiving average and trails only Colts wideout Reggie Wayne (16) in receptions of 20-plus yards.

Did you know?

In four road games (1-3 record), the Jaguars have trailed by two or fewer points entering the fourth quarter in three games, and were ahead by seven points at Oakland on Oct. 21 before losing in overtime. 

Success on the road

There is no viable explanation but it's hard to argue the production of the Jaguars offense and defense on the road compared to home games.  The Jaguars averaged nearly 90 more yards of offense (311.2, road; 226.8, home) and 10 more points (20.7 avg., road; 8.8 avg., home) in the club's first four road games compared to the five home contests. The Jaguars have eclipsed 20-plus points in three games this season with all three coming on the road. 

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has thrown for five touchdowns in the four road games and produced his top two career games in 2012 on the road including a career-high 303 yards at Green Bay. 

"Our players are proud to be home," Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey said. "They are trying to do their best at home and we don't have the mindset 'let's go and get on the road because we play better.' I don't believe that's the case."

Defensively, the Jaguars have allowed 353.7 yards on the road and 417.4 yards per game at home.   Six of the club's 10 sacks have come in road games.

Throwing the rock

The Jaguars enter Sunday's game with a streak of six straight games with at least 32 passing attempts, the longest streak for the club since 2000.  The Jaguars had at least 32 passing attempts in the first six games of the 2000 season, the longest streak in franchise history for a season.

The Jaguars already surpassed their 2011 total (6) for completions of 30-plus yards with eight through nine games.  Blaine Gabbert has a career-high 10 completions of 25-plus yards through nine games, surpassing his total as a rookie (9).

Anger on record-breaking pace

2012 third-round draft pickBryan Anger is tied for fourth in the NFL with 23 punts of 50-plus yards, and he ranks seventh with a 48.4-yard average and fifth with a 42.3-yard net average.   Anger's gross and net average would both be NFL rookie records and team records if the season ended today.

Brett Kern set the league's rookie mark in 1998 with a 46.7 average and Matt Bosher finished with a rookie record 38.9 average in 2011 with Atlanta. 

What to look for

  • Blaine Gabbert has 10 completions of 25-plus yards through nine games.  He finished with nine completions of 25-plus yards as a rookie in 2011.
  • Tight end Marcedes Lewis is 82 receiving yards shy of reaching 3,000 for his career, joining Jimmy Smith (12,287) and Keenan McCardell (6,393) as the only players in franchise history to reach that milestone.
  • Wide receiver Cecil Shorts is looking to become only the third Jaguar since 2005 to have three 100-yard receiving games in a season (Jimmy Smith, 2005; Mike Sims-Walker, 2009).
  • Linebacker Paul Posluszny has recorded double-digit tackles in seven of nine games and leads the team with 125 stops. 
  • Left tackle Eugene Monroe has emerged as one of the top left tackles in the NFL and has allowed only one sack in nine games.  Monroe and Meester are the only offensive players to play every snap this season.
  • Only one opposing quarterback (Christian Ponder, 105.5) has posted a 100-plus rating in nine games.
  • Wide receiver Laurent Robinson has 15 receptions for 118 yards in the last two games. 
  • Uche Nwaneri is expected to play in his 75th consecutive game on Sunday including his 55th straight start.
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