JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's five Thursday takeaways as the Jaguars prepare to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Sunday …
1)Huge challenge.We begin Thursday takeaways with the opponent, which this week means a look at wide receiver. While Jameis Winston has had the turnover issues often associated with rookie quarterbacks, wide receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson remain a sizeable matchup issue for defensive backs – with an emphasis on sizeable. Evans (6-feet-5, 231 pounds) has 10 receptions in the last two games for 133 yards and was targeted 17 times in a seven-reception, 101-yard performance against the Texans in Week 3. Jackson (6-5, 230) has 19 receptions for 292 yards with two touchdowns this season and was targeted 15 times in a 10-reception 147-yard performance last week against Carolina. "These guys have both height and size," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said this week. "They go to both of them. … They use their body very well to shield the defender, so that's what presents the challenges."
2)The Real McCoy.The Buccaneers rank ninth in the NFL in total defense, with one reason the presence of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. A sixth-year veteran from the University of Oklahoma, McCoy has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons. He has three sacks this season. Bradley on Thursday said not only is he disruptive, but his versatility allows the Buccaneers to use him uniquely. "He has lined up on the edge, too, and you're seeing him there, so that poses a problem or issue as well," Bradley said, adding, "At times, he has a three-way go. He can slide inside, stay outside, come into you … so there are different things he does. They keep him on the move at times. That makes it even more of a challenge." While McCoy often lines up over left guard – in the Jaguars' case, veteran Zane Beadles – he can play three-technique tackle on either side of the center. "He's a very good player – really strong, really explosive and a great takeoff," Jaguars center Stefen Wisniewski said. "We'll certainly be aware of where he is every snap."
Images from Thursdays practice as the Jaguars prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
3)Whatever it takes.Ideally, Paul Posluszny said he would have a full week to prepare – or at least a day. Even if neither happens, Posluszny said he believes he can still play Sunday. The ninth-year veteran middle linebacker has yet to practice this week because of a high-ankle sprain sustained against Indianapolis Sunday, and Bradley said a decision on Posluszny's status could be made Saturday or Sunday. That could mean Posluszny starting Sunday despite not practicing at all during the week, something he said he never has done in the NFL. "I've been very limited throughout a week and played, but this may be a new one," Posluszny said. "I would much rather get some live reps, but if that's the way we have to do it, that's the way we have to do it. I'll have to make up for that with film, spending more time studying and in meetings. I know I play my best when I have the opportunity to have a great week of practice. But I would have to learn how to do this."
4)Responding to the rookie.If Posluszny can't play, rookie Thurston Armbrister – an undrafted free agent from the University of Miami – would get his first NFL start in his place. As the middle linebacker, he would be responsible for relaying and making defensive signals. "You're in front of the huddle and you're making different calls here and there," Babich said, adding, "The guys have accepted him and want to help him. I think that's been a big plus for his confidence." Bradley and Babich each said that Armbrister having played about a half last week against Indianapolis should help if Posluszny can't play. "What I like about what happened to Thurston was he was thrusted into the game," Bradley said. "It's not like he was told before the game he was going to start. He went in there and had to play at a moment's notice so I think that was good for him. You saw his game clean up as it went on."
5)A pressing theme.The theme around the Jaguars' offense this week is pressing and two-fold – playing a complete game and finishing drives. The Jaguars have started fast in three of four games, scoring a total of 42 points in the first half of games against Carolina (Week 1), Miami (Week 2) and Indianapolis (Week 4). They have scored three points in the second halves of those games. "At the end of the day, it matters what you have in that W column,'' veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "We know if we can finish at the end of those drives, we're not sitting even here talking about what we did last week." On the issue of second-half adjustments, Lewis said, "Adjustments are really about doing what you didn't do well in the first half, obviously. We have to continue to play our game. The coaches are going to talk about different plays we want to get done in the second half, but if you worry too much about it you can't even do your job. It's about going out and playing your ball, then naturally you're going to start fast and finish strong."