More Injury Issues for Jags

The Jaguars aren't quite in a must-win situation this Sunday at Denver, but a loss would leave them at 2-4 entering the bye week, and looking up at several AFC teams. A win would give the season a brand new perspective, especially since the schedule seemingly gets easier after the bye with matchups against Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Detroit. However, a few more injuries have popped up.

If the Jaguars are going to win on Sunday they will have to do it with a somewhat skeleton crew, as safety Reggie Nelson, cornerback Drayton Florence, wide receiver Mike Walker, defensive tackle Rob Meier, and return specialist Brian Witherspoon may all miss the game.

"We've got a few guys who are banged up," said Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. "Maurice (Jones-Drew) is going to be ok it looks like. We've got a few guys that are banged up. I think Spoon (Brian Witherspoon) has a (knee) bruise. I think (Rob) Meier got a little bit of an MCL sprain; he'll be back, he's a tough guy. I think Mike Walker got a little bit of an MCL Sprain. I think those are the three."

With the injuries to safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Drayton Florence, the Jaguars defense is left with little depth and they've been scrambling to move people around to find some kind of lineup that is effective. Safety Brian Williams was moved to cornerback after reserve corner Will James, filling in for Drayton Florence, allowed big play after big play. The immediate results were a third quarter in which the Jaguars defense allowed Pittsburgh zero yards of offense, and they finished by allowing just six second half points.

"We'll continue to do what we can with the people we have to give ourselves the best opportunity to win," Del Rio said. "We went in with a plan and adjusted where we thought we needed to, and we'll continue to do that."

The Jaguars pass defense has fallen to 26th in the NFL, and the team can't get off the field on third down. The team has allowed opponents to convert on 49.2% of third down opportunities, which is dead last in the NFL.

"My focus is the execution part and I refuse to get involved in excuse-making based on injuries and things like that," Del Rio said. "So my focus is primarily on what we can do to put the guys we have in position to make plays they can make, and then we expect them to go out and do that for us. So we're going to continue to work at it from that standpoint. We see the results when it goes well of what we're capable of, and we just need to see more of it, more consistency."

Although Jack Del Rio won't mention the injuries as an excuse, it's certainly played a part in the team's defensive struggles. Reggie Nelson is a playmaker in the secondary and his loss is indeed significant. Although Drayton Florence wasn't playing well prior to his injury, he is certainly better than Will James who filled in. The Jaguars are hopeful that at least one of them will be able to play on Sunday.

"I think Florence is on track, hopefully to return on Wednesday," Jack Del Rio said. "I'm more optimistic about that. With Reggie, it's a kind of wait and see. I really would like his injury to settle down. So if it doesn't show significant progress there's a chance he could miss this week again."

As bad as the Jacksonville defense has been, the offense has statistically been even worse. The Jaguars are ranked 26th in total yards, and 23rd in passing and scoring. If you potentially take away Mike Walker, who led the team in receiving last week, and add in a somewhat hobbled Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars already one-dimensional offense becomes even less diverse.

The Jaguars can't focus on who they don't have this week in Denver, but more who they do have and who can make a contribution. They will need to rally the troops and play inspired ball, just as the Steelers did Sunday night in Jacksonville.

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