Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars

Can J.P. Losman salvage what's left of the Bills' season? A win against the Jaguars would be doubly beneficial by knocking a potential competitor for a playoff birth down a peg, and moving Buffalo one step closer.

Buffalo Bills (5-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/25/07
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

SERIES: 7th meeting. Bills lead 4-2, including two victories in Jacksonville. The Bills and Jaguars first met in a 1996 wild-card playoff game in Buffalo with the upstart Jaguars winning 30-27. It would be Jim Kelly's final game of his Hall of Fame career.

PREDICTION: Jaguars 23-16

KEYS TO THE GAME: Without the physical presence of rookie RB Marshawn Lynch, the Bills have to rely on the big-play threat QB J.P. Losman provides in the vertical passing game. Unfortunately for Buffalo, he also continues to be inconsistent. But with veteran Anthony Thomas and rookie Dwayne Wright sharing the load in the backfield, the onus is on Losman to lead find WR Lee Evans and provide the vertical threat Buffalo must get to compete on the road. ... The Jaguars bludgeoned the Bills for 207 rushing yards last year and will again come out looking to establish RBs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. The Bills are allowing a respectable 4.3 yards per carry, but few opponents have forced Garrard into pressure situations in which he might make mistakes. Unless Buffalo can force Jacksonville to continually drive the length of the field, this game could be decided by halftime.

KEY INJURIES: Bills: Lynch (ankle sprain) is expected to miss his second straight game. Jaguars: CB Rashean Mathis (groin) is uncertain.

FAST FACTS: Of Bills Losman's 29 career touchdown passes, 12 have gone for 40-plus yards. ... Taylor surpassed WR Jimmy Smith to become the team's all-time leader in yards from scrimmage with 12,342 yards.

PERSONNEL NEWS: (last updated 11/22/07)

Bills:

--QB J.P. Losman will make his fourth consecutive start over rookie Trent Edwards Sunday at Jacksonville. Losman is looking to improve on his 4-11 career road record.
--RB Marshawn Lynch (ankle sprain) remains doubtful for Sunday's game at Jacksonville. He's shooting for a return next week at Washington.
--WR Lee Evans has caught a pass in 52 consecutive games, third longest in team history. He has 217 career catches and will look to get loose against a Jacksonville secondary that could be without CB Rashean Mathis (groin).
--WR Roscoe Parrish, who has 24 catches for 244 yards and got free for a 47-yard TD against New England last week, is lobbying for more playing time at wide receiver. He has been the club's No. 3 man and has gone long stretches of being an afterthought for offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild.
--SS Donte Whitner suffered what appeared to be a mild concussion in last Sunday's loss to New England, though the team has only labeled it a head injury. He should be fine for Sunday's game at Jacksonville.
--OLB Keith Ellison will need a good game Sunday in Jacksonville against the pass, with Maurice Jones-Drew averaging 10.2 yards on 23 catches out of the backfield.
--DE Aaron Schobel, who has just 2.5 sacks, needs a big game against Jacksonville QB David Garrard. In a 27-24 Bills win last season, Garrard fired two TD passes and also scrambled five times for 28 yards.

Jaguars:

--DT John Henderson returned to practice Thursday after being excused Wednesday for undisclosed personal reasons.
--CB Rashean Mathis missed practice for the second consecutive day Thursday and may miss the Bills game.
--LB Daryl Smith is likely to move from the outside to the middle because Mike Peterson is out with a broken hand.
--LB Justin Durant, a rookie, is likely to move into the starting lineup because Mike Peterson is out with a broken hand. He has already started two games this year.
--G Maurice Williams, who lost his starting tackle job when the Jaguars signed free agent Tony Pashos, is doing a solid job replacing injured Chris Naeole at right guard.
--TE Greg Estandia (foot) returned to practice Thursday in the only change on the injury report.

 

TEAM NOTES

BILLS

--Coach Dick Jauron hated to do it, but watching some of the game tape from the 56-10 loss to New England was required viewing as a learning tool for his players. Watching Tom Brady complete 31 of 39 passes for 373 yards and five TDs and a 146.1 rating and Randy Moss catch 10 passes for 128 yards and four scores didn't look any better on tape. "They'll definitely see parts of it because we need to learn from it," Jauron said. "We've got a lot of young players. They need to see it and then we need to get on real quickly."

--OG Derrick Dockery: "With a great group of guys in this locker room, we're going to regroup and fight. We're going to look at what we didn't do well and correct those mistakes and try to get better."

--Jauron didn't have to think long when asked what he's most thankful for this Thanksgiving Weekend. "We're particularly thankful for Kevin's progress and we all should be," he said, referring to Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a life-threatening spinal-cord injury in Week 1 but has recovered to the point where he's walking with assistance. "It's a testament to him and to our medical staff and to everybody that he's come this far. That is a real blessing for all of us." There are reports Everett may soon travel to Buffalo from his Houston home to pay his teammates a visit.

--The Bills have collected just nine sacks vs. 22 for their opponents. DEs Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay, who signed two of the richest contracts in club history before the season started, have combined for just 4.5 sacks.

Jauron isn't disappointed in the numbers. "I'll talk about sacks in general: I think they're overrated," he said. "I think pressure is a much bigger stat for a football team and a defense and I think our pressure has been OK."

The Bills rank 28th in yardage but a respectable 18th in points allowed (18.4) per game despite the ugliness against New England.

--SS Donte Whitner wasn't too upset over reports that Patriots CB Randall Gay told ESPN radio that the Bills should be "embarrassed" to collect their paychecks after last Sunday's 46-point blowout loss. Said Whitner: "Actually, I don't even know who Randall Gay is. For him to make that statement, he should be embarrassed."

--The Bills family is grieving the death of former coach Jim Ringo, a Hall of Fame center who played for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. Ringo, who was 3-20 as Buffalo's head coach during parts of two seasons in the 1970s and a much-respected line coach, died this week in Green Bay two days shy of his 76th birthday. He battled Alzheimer's Disease. Ringo is credited for putting together Buffalo's famed "Electric Company" line that blocked for O.J. Simpson.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- Number of Bills placed on injured reserve this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It always is. Like Coach (Dick Jauron) says, 'Every position but especially this position (is up for grabs).' This position is about winning and taking teams to the playoffs. We have a chance and an opportunity to get on a little run and to make those things happen and until they do, everything is up for grabs." -- QB J.P. Losman, when asked if his job was on the line Sunday in Jacksonville.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SS Donte Whitner took a blow to the head during the Patriots loss but was able to remain in the game. He was held out of practice on Wednesday, however, and should be OK to play on Sunday.

Concussions have been a major topic for players and the league this past year. Players are being urged to resist the "macho" code of going back into the game and coaches are more educated today. "Any blow to the head we take very seriously," coach Dick Jauron said. "Donte, at some point in the game, didn't really have a recollection of some things that occurred afterwards so we always take those things very seriously. We don't think it'll be a problem but we'll keep watching it."

Whitner said he felt fine on Wednesday and he expected to practice on Thursday. "They haven't used the word concussion, not with me," he said of team trainers. "I'm feeling pretty good. I banged my head a little when I hit Kevin Faulk in the game. It's just a precaution."

JAGUARS:

--For the second consecutive year, Daryl Smith, who likes to stay in the background, has been thrust into the spotlight because of an injury to Mike Peterson.

Smith led the team in tackles last year while starting 10 games in the middle after Peterson was sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle.

Now they're counting on him to do it again.

Although the Jaguars showed confidence in Smith last year when they gave him a contract extension, Smith often gets overlooked because of his low-key personality.

"I'm not a guy who craves the spotlight," he said. "I'm just here to work and help the team win."

Coach Jack Del Rio said, "As we continue to have team success, more people are going to recognize him. We often match him up against the best tight end or back the other team has."

On Smith's lack of recognition, Del Rio said, "That's your (writers) job. A coach can only toot a horn so often. If he's written about and talked about, then he becomes known."

--Del Rio has spent the week warning his team that the Bills are better than they looked in a 56-10 loss to New England. He keeps hammering home the point that they lost by a point to Dallas, 25-24, and then won four in a row before getting routed by the Patriots.

"There's such a fine line between having fun and not having fun. It's a short trip from the penthouse to the outhouse," he said.

Last year, the Jaguars played in Buffalo the weekend after Thanksgiving and were upset by a Bills team that was 4-6.

The Bills rank 31 in offensive yardage gained and 31st in defensive yardage allowed, but Del Rio said those numbers are skewed by two losses to New England.

--The John Henderson mystery continues. For the second time in three weeks, Henderson was excused from practice for undisclosed personal reasons.
And he's not having a Pro Bowl-type year. He's 11th on the team with only 29 tackles and he has only one sack this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- The number of interceptions David Garrard has in his seven starts.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't start planning for the day when it might happen the day after it (injury) happens." -- Coach Jack Del Rio, on how they prepare their backups to play so they're ready if they're forced to play because of an injury.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The return of kicker Josh Scobee and quarterback David Garrard and the injury that sidelined linebacker Mike Peterson led the Jaguars to make several roster moves.

Scobee's return meant that John Carney, who kicked for eight games in Scobee's absence, was expendable so he was released and they used his spot to sign Jorge Cordova. Originally selected by the Jaguars in the third round in 2004, he has been cut twice and re-signed twice this year. He was last re-signed on Nov. 6 and played in Tennessee and then cut on Nov. 12. He was signed because Justin Durant was suspended after being arrested.

Garrard's return meant they could waive quarterback Todd Bouman and they signed veteran safety Lamont Thompson, who was waived by the Dolphins on Oct. 10. Their safety play has been shaky and Thompson gives them more depth.


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