JACKSONVILLE – Time away was not a good time. Or fun. Or relaxing.
Todd Wash described his recent 10-day isolation because of the NFL's COVID-19 protocols "frustrating," but the Jaguars' defensive coordinator on Thursday said he liked a couple of things.
Perhaps most notably: How the Jaguars' defensive players responded to the situation.
"I think our players did a tremendous job," Wash said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-10) prepared to play the Minnesota Vikings (5-6) at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., Sunday at 1 p.m.
Wash, in his fifth season as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, spent 10 days alone in a hotel room –conducting virtual meetings with staff and players and preparing for this past Sunday's loss to the Cleveland Browns and Sunday's game at Minnesota. He returned to TIAA Bank Field Thursday and will travel with the team this weekend.
Wash said the time away – the non-game days, anyway – were similar to many days this season because meetings have been virtual.
"I just did them from a hotel room for 10 days," he said.
What was significantly different last week was that neither Wash nor any of the defensive staff could participate in practice. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone ran the defense during practice, with veteran players supervising individual drills early in practice.
"Now, they (the players) know some of the things we go through," Wash said with a laugh. "But I think it's a credit to our players and coaches, once they got in the building to make sure we have a game plan ready. The players did a nice job of executing it. Obviously, we fell short and that's not what we want – but I think a lot of credit given to our players going through the adversity we did last week."
All but three members of the Jaguars' defensive staff returned to the team facility Saturday, with safeties coach Joe Danna calling the plays against the Browns Sunday.
Wash said he watched the game alone in his hotel room.
"Sunday was tough – there's no doubt," Wash said. "Sitting and watching it on TV, there obviously was some frustration, but at the same time I really liked to see the way our guys competed in this adverse situation. I think a lot of credit to our players through this transition this past week.
"I got excited at times and I got frustrated at times. It was just so different watching it through the TV – like a fan would, probably."
Wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. (ribs) and Chris Conley (hips) practiced limited Thursday for a second consecutive day, with four other players – linebacker Kamalei Correa (hamstring), cornerback Sidney Jones IV (Achilles), right tackle Jawaan Taylor (knee) and safety Jarrod Wilson (shoulder) also working limited for a second consecutive day; running back RB Dare Ogunbowale (hand) and safety Brandon Rusnak (ribs/quad) worked full Thursday after practicing limited Wednesday. Tight end Tyler Eifert returned to practice Thursday after a scheduled day off Thursday, and tight end Ben Ellefson (knee) and nose tackle DaVon Hamilton (knee) both missed practice for a second consecutive day. Defensive end Adam Gotsis and tight end James O'Shaughnessy both missed practice Thursday with scheduled days off.
Marrone, who went for two two-point conversions against Cleveland and who has gone for fourth-down on multiple occasions in recent weeks, was asked Wednesday if he was more likely to be aggressive in the coming weeks. "Week to week it changes," he said. "Sometimes you feel good or you feel like there's a good opportunity, where you can maybe take advantage of sometimes. We look at that hard during the week. We always have things in all different phases of what we do. The other part that comes into play is the game management part of it – if you're down and you don't have enough possessions and you have to figure out a way either keep possessing the football or trying to steal a possession. That's how I go into it. I try to make sure I keep the game in the players' hands, and I don't take it away from them. That's a thing I've always believed in my whole life."