Nightmare Continues for Jaguars

This is rapidly becoming a nightmarish year for the Jaguars. Touted as a Super Bowl contender at the start of the season, the Jaguars are 3-4 in the wake of their 23-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Find out what they'll have to do to make the playoffs and who they'll have to use to do it.

The Jaguars, who go to winless Cincinnati on Sunday, now have to go 7-2 to finish 10-6, and that might not get a wild-card spot. Jacksonville has four conference losses, so it might have to go 8-1 to make the playoffs.

Last year, Cleveland went 10-6 and didn't make the playoffs, so the Jaguars have no margin for error.

On top of all that, they learned Monday that guard Chris Naeole, who had been penciled in the starting lineup against the Browns before breaking his hand in pregame warmups, will undergo surgery on the hand and probably will be lost for the season.

Naeole is the third veteran guard to be lost for the season. The Jaguars lost Mo Williams with a biceps injury and Vince Manuwai with a knee injury. Like Naeole, Williams was injured in the pregame warmups.

They don't keep records of such things, but it's unusual for a team to lose three veteran guards for the season in the same year.

Center Brad Meester, who suffered a biceps injury on the second day of training camp, returned to the starting lineup against the Browns, but he had the tough assignment of trying to block Shaun Rogers and struggled at times.

Naeole's latest injury came just when he was completing a year-long recovery from a torn quad tendon injury that sidelined him since last November. He was preparing to make his 2008 debut.

"Nobody was more down than Chris," coach Jack Del Rio said. "He worked so hard to get himself back in shape and go through all the rehab, and we were going to start him and he breaks it in the pregame warmups."

The Jaguars waived Naeole last March 3 rather than wait for him to heal. They re-signed him Sept. 17 after both Williams and Manuwai were injured.

Naeole's absence probably means that Tutan Reyes will continue at right guard for the team. Uche Nwaneri has been playing left guard since Manuwai was knocked out.

So the Jaguars need to get on a roll, and they have to do it with backup guards.


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