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Friday, 12 December 2014

Jacksonville at Baltimore: 5 Things To Know

There is a saying in football that when a player gets hurt, it’s the next man up. For Jacksonville, head coach Gus Bradley will have a chance to see who will step into Denard Robinson’s starting role and produce. Can Toby Gerhart or Storm Johnson, or a combination of both, help a rushing attack that is virtually nonexistent for the Jaguars?

According to the team’s website, Gerhart likely will start against the Ravens, with Johnson also having a large role and third-team Jordan Todman playing a situational role.

“You can probably anticipate seeing Toby and Storm with Todman mixed in there,” Head Coach Gus Bradley said Thursday as the Jaguars (2-11) prepared to play the Baltimore Ravens (8-5) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday at 1 p.m. “I would anticipate seeing all three of them.”

Gerhart practiced full Thursday after practicing limited with an ankle injury Wednesday.

“It’s an opportunity – I haven’t had a chance to do that in a while,” Gerhart said of starting Sunday. “I’m looking forward to it. We’re playing against a physical team and excited for the opportunity.”

Gerhart, signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, sustained a foot/ankle injury in the regular-season opener against Philadelphia, and has dealt with the injury through much of a season that began with him starting five games before being inactive Weeks 6 and 7.

The Jaguars, 2-11, will attempt to not only secure their third win of the season, but also stop any momentum the Ravens may have toward making the playoffs.

Here are five things to know about this game.

Protect the ball

This stays in this spot. The loss to Houston Sunday didn’t turn on Blake Bortles’ interception, but that play made a tight game suddenly one-sided. That’s what turnovers do. Avoiding them is No. 1, and probably will stay there the rest of the season.

Play two halves

The Jaguars haven’t done this in a while. Maybe they’re too young to do it. Either way, it’s a must. The talent isn’t developed enough to overcome long lapses. Especially lapses that come in the second half.

Give the quarterback time

For the thousandth time, this isn’t all the line. That group can play better – and it did last week at times. Bortles can play better. Communication can improve. Blitz pickup can improve. It’s many, many things … and it all comes back to one central theme. Defenders are too close to Bortles on too many plays, and it’s hard to play quarterback when that’s true. Especially as a rookie.

Keep Marqise Lee confident

His improvement in recent weeks has been marked. That’s good for him, and good for the team. He’s the Jaguars’ most explosive offensive weapon right now and has gone quickly from a question mark to a strength. Keep that trend going.


The Jaguars haven’t run effectively since the Week 11 bye week. Part of it is the pass offense, which hasn’t been effective enough to force defenders out of the box. So, first, the pass must improve … then the run … That’s a lot of improvement in a short time, but that’s what’s needed.


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