PREDICTION: Jaguars 30-23
KEYS TO THE GAME: Redskins QB Rex Grossman led a furious comeback last week that came up just short, but has an opportunity to get off to a strong start against a Jaguars defense that blitzes frequently in an attempt to mask an undermanned secondary. The run defense has also faltered of late and Redskins RB Ryan Torain averages 4.9 yards per carry. Jaguars QB David Garrard will keep an eye on OLB Brian Orakpo. While it's rare for Jacksonville to unleash a vertical gameplan, a couple of downfield looks are required to keep the Redskins from piling in the box to stop RB Maurice Jones-Drew.
FAST FACTS: Torain has 35 carries for 225 yards in his past two games. ... The Jaguars have just 43 first-quarter points.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
So much for both sides taking the high road in the wake of last Thursday's stunning benching of six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.
In his only public comments since the news broke last Friday, McNabb said he had been "somewhat disrespected" by Shanahan and the coach's son and offensive coordinator Kyle, but added during his paid weekly radio interview that he still wanted to remain in Washington in 2011.
Asked about McNabb's comments the next day, Mike Shanahan disputed the quarterback's claim that he only learned from media reports that he would be third-string for the final two games but said that he was glad to hear that the former starter didn't want to leave the Redskins. Shanahan did add that he doubted that McNabb would want to be a backup if that were to be the case.
But on Thursday, McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, released a statement in which he blasted the Shanahans, who had already completed their media sessions and were thus unavailable to fire back.
"The Shanahans -- both Mike and more specifically Kyle -- have made this an extremely difficult relationship to maintain," Smith said. "Their comments have been beyond disrespectful and unprecedented for a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback such as Donovan. There have been many reports leaked of Donovan not being in shape and not being able to grasp Kyle's offense. The fact is Donovan came into camp in the best shape of his career having dropped 10 pounds in the offseason. Donovan spent most of his offseason in Washington working out with the Redskins and never missed a practice.
"Unfortunately, it appears as though the Redskins coaching staff decided that their 12-year veteran quarterback, who flawlessly executed one of the NFL's most complex offensive systems (in Philadelphia), is unable to grasp Kyle's offense," added Smith, who just 38 days earlier was brought into the FedEx Field press box to discuss the contract extension that McNabb had just signed with the Redskins.
"I believe there is tension between Donovan and Kyle that's rooted in the fact that Donovan has suggested modifications to Kyle's offense based on intricacies Donovan has learned in his NFL career. ... After Donovan quickly led the Redskins down the field and scored what appeared to be the game-saving drive against Tampa Bay, Kyle was quoted as saying, 'He'll never take another snap for me again.'"
That was the game before the benching. Smith noted that McNabb had a Pro Bowl season for Philadelphia in 2009 while leading the Eagles to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth and that he was on pace to set Washington's record for passing yards (despite a career-low 77.1
passer rating and a career-high 15 interceptions) before he was benched.
"Make no mistake, this has been a difficult season for Donovan," Smith said. "Some may say that he has had a down year ... that is true specifically because of the high standards that he has set as an elite NFL quarterback in his previous 11 seasons. Donovan has maintained a high level of professionalism on and off the field. He is determined to continue his relentless commitment to win and looks forward to the opportunity wherever that may be!"
The Jaguars have to decide whether to let Maurice Jones-Drew play hurt again after he missed the Jaguars' Wednesday and Thursday practice sessions for the second week in a row.
Jones-Drew, who is battling a knee injury, has a history of playing hurt. He played in Indianapolis last Sunday despite the injury but was held to 46 yards in 15 carries.
Coach Jack Del Rio said he likes to decide on Friday which players are going to play, but he might give Jones-Drew more time to see if he can go.
"Some guys have earned that because you've seen them go through that and do that and then play well. If you have a history with a guy, it makes it a little easier to understand what they're capable of and so you build a relationship with guys," he said.
Del Rio said Wednesday he was optimistic Jones-Drew would play but added, "I try not to let it linger until Sunday. I like to make that determination so we can set our game-day active list and let the special teams coach get his guys in order and our offensive and defensive coaches to get their plans in order. You'd like to have that settled earlier if at all possible."
Given Jones-Drew's history, it won't be surprising if Del Rio lets him try to play hurt.
Jones-Drew had run for 100 yards in six games in a row before the streak was snapped by the Colts. But in the previous 14 games dating back to last year, many of which he played hurt, he had only two 100-yard games.
--OLB Brian Orakpo didn't practice again on Thursday because of groin and hamstring injuries he suffered last Sunday at Dallas. Coach Mike Shanahan termed him doubtful for Sunday's game at Jacksonville.
--DE Kedric Golston didn't practice again on Thursday because of the groin that sidelined him at Dallas. Coach Mike Shanahan termed him doubtful for Jacksonville.
--KR Brandon Banks was limited again on Thursday because of his surgically repaired knee. Coach Mike Shanahan termed him doubtful for Jacksonville.
--SS Reed Doughty was limited on Thursday after not practicing on Wednesday because of the concussion he suffered at Dallas. Coach Mike Shanahan said Doughty has a good chance of playing on Sunday.
--FS Kareem Moore rested his surgically-repaired knee again on Thursday but coach Mike Shanahan said he still thinks there's a good chance he could play on Sunday.
--ILB Rocky McIntosh was limited again on Thursday with the hamstring he injured at Dallas. There's a good chance that he'll play on Sunday.
--OLB Lorenzo Alexander was limited again on Thursday with an ailing hamstring but is expected to play on Sunday.
--NT Anthony Bryant was limited again on Thursday with an ailing back but is expected to play on Sunday.
--RB Maurice Jones-Drew missed the Wednesday and Thursday practice sessions for the second week in a row.
--LB Justin Durant, who didn't play in Indianapolis, missed the Wednesday and Thursday practice sessions.
--WR Mike Sims-Walker aggravated a high ankle sprain in Indianapolis and didn't practice Wednesday and Thursday.
--S Courtney Greene, who missed the last two games with a dislocated shoulder, was limited Thursday and Friday.
--G Justin Smiley, who was limited with a head injury Wednesday, didn't practice Thursday.
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