JACKSONVILLE – He isn't the most-discussed Jaguars' defensive player.
But to hear Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone tell it, free safety Tashaun Gipson may have been one of the most important this season.
And he certainly has been one of the most overlooked.
"He's been great," Marrone said Thursday as the AFC South Champion Jaguars (10-6) prepared to play the Buffalo Bills (9-7) in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
Gipson, a Pro Bowl selection for the Cleveland Browns in 2014, signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in the 2016 offseason and had an interception and two passes defensed that season.
He started 16 games during the 2017 regular season for the NFL's No. 2-ranked defense in terms of yards, finishing the season with four interceptions and seven passes defensed.
"I can't really say enough good things about him," Marrone said. "He's done a lot of things that I think when you look back after the season you go, 'Wow. He did a heck of a job.'''
Marrone said Gipson was his first phone call when Pro Bowl voting was announced. Gipson was not among the four Jaguars defensive players named to the game.
"I really thought he had a year that was worthy of being a Pro Bowl player," Marrone said. "I knew him when he was in Cleveland, because played against him. I followed him there. He had a really good year in Cleveland, but I thought this was by far the best year he has had."
Also on Thursday:
*Wide receiver Marqise Lee (ankle) was the only Jaguars player not expected to practice, with tight end Marcedes Lewis (ankle) and linebacker Donald Payne (quadriceps) expected to return to practice after not practicing Wednesday. Lee missed practice Wednesday after not playing the past two weeks. Other Jaguars players listed on the pre-practice injury update Thursday as being expected to practice were quarterback Blake Bortles (right wrist), center Brandon Linder (shoulder), left tackle Cam Robinson (abdomen) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (back). Jones and Robinson both missed starts this past Sunday against Tennessee. …
*Marrone said Robinson looked good in practice Wednesday, adding "he's getting himself ready to play like everyone else." Robinson, the Jaguars' second-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, started the first 15 games of the season. "Cam has played well," Marrone said. "His performance, make no mistake about it, has been helpful to where we are offensively. I think he's going to be a very good player for a long time." …
*Marrone said he feels good about the health of running back Leonard Fournette, who dealt with ankle and quadriceps issues throughout the second half of the season. Fournette rushed for 69 yards on 19 carries against Tennessee Sunday and caught four passes for 67 yards. "I felt good after last week watching him run," Marrone said. "I think he's back and he should be fine."
*Marrone on the Bills' defense, which tied for fifth in the NFL with 18 interceptions this season: "They do a great job. They rarely make mistakes. They do a great job of studying film and they do a great job of route recognition back there. If they see something, and you're eyeing a receiver, they're going to jump that route. We talk a lot about the ball skills of our secondary; I equate the ball skills of our secondary to Buffalo's secondary. They have excellent ball skills back there. If that ball's in the air, those guys are going to come down with it. If you're going to take shots, and take chances, you better be aware of where those players are." Safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer both had five interceptions for the Bills in the regular season. …