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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tennessee at Jacksonville: 5 Things to Know

The Jacksonville Jaguars got some good news on Tuesday when it was announced quarterback Blake Bortles was out of the walking boot at practice and is making progress toward playing on Thursday night at home against the Tennessee Titans.

 Fisch, the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator, said while Bortles did not participate in the team’s light work on Monday evening, he is preparing as if Bortles will play and start against the Tennessee Titans Thursday.

“As far as I know, it’s going to be Blake,” Fisch said Tuesday, on, as the Jaguars (2-12) prepared to play the Titans (2-12) at EverBank Field Thursday.

“We’re going to obviously see how he practices. He did not participate (Monday), so we’ll have to see how he does today, then see how it looks today and tomorrow.

“The plan right now is to see how he feels.”

Bortles, the Jaguars’ starter in the last 11 games, sustained a mid-foot sprain in the fourth quarter of a 20-12 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday. He wore a protective boot after the game Sunday and again Monday.

Fisch said the short week – and Bortles’ growing knowledge of the offense after three months as a starter – will mean the team won’t have to alter preparation.

“It’s a Thursday game,” Fisch said. “With the way the week of preparation works, you don’t have much anyway in regards to live throwing. Yesterday was a walkthrough and tomorrow’s the day before the game. Based on that, and right now he’s 11 games in – I think he’s pretty comfortable in terms of what we’re going to ask him to do.

The news also means the team can game plan as usual. Should Bortles not be able to start, Chad Henne will jump back into the lineup and lead the team. Henne started the first three games of the season before being benched for Bortles in the second half of the game against the Colts.

Also on the line in this game is potentially the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. And if that wasn’t enough to motivate the team, Jacksonville is a favorite in a football game for the first time in over two years. Tennessee won the first contest between these two teams in Jacksonville.

Here are five things to know about this game.

Jaguars safeties Josh Evans and Johnathan Cyprien versus Titans tight end Delanie Walker

Walker is the Titans’ top target this season with a tight end franchise record of 793 yards on 52 receptions. He has four touchdowns receiving and a 15.3-yard average, having caught three passes for 57 yards against the Jaguars earlier this season. The Jaguars have struggled this season at times against tight ends, improving that area in recent weeks but also allowing Ravens tight end Owen Daniels four receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown Sunday.

Left guard Zane Beadles and right guard Brandon Linder versus Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey

Casey’s sacks total has dropped from 10.5 sacks in the Titans’ 4-3 scheme last season to five in the 3-4-based scheme of first-year coordinator Ray Horton.  Still, he remains one of the NFL’s more underrated pass rushers, and is credited with 14 quarterback hits and 27 hurries by Pro Football Focus. Casey lined up opposite both Beadles and Linder in Tennessee earlier this season. He registered two sacks, with one coming when Bortles ran into Casey trying to escape the pocket and the other coming when Linder handed Casey toward right tackle Austin Pasztor before Casey beat Pasztor for the sack.

A Titanic Quarterback Issue

The Titans in Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt’s first season have dealt with injuries at quarterback. Zach Mettenberger, a rookie who has played in seven games this season and who earned the starting position, likely is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Jake Locker, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft who began the season as a starter, sustained a shoulder injury while starting against the New York Jets this past week. The Titans placed Locker on injured reserve Monday. 

Charlie Whitehurst finished the Jets game and is expected to start Thursday. He has played in five games this season, including a 16-14 victory over the Jaguars in Nashville on October 12 in which he completed 17 of 28 passes for 233 yards.

Jaguars Win

I said this after the Ravens game and I am sticking to it. Draft position is good, but wins are better. The Jaguars get their third of the season in the team’s final home game.





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