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Setting the table: Jaguars-Rams

Posted Oct 1, 2013

Storylines and stuff to watch as the Jacksonville Jaguars prepare to play the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis, Mo., Sunday.

JACKSONVILLE – Here’s this week’s Setting the Table: Storylines and stuff to watch as the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) prepare to play the St. Louis Rams (1-3) in St. Louis, Mo., Sunday at 1 p.m.

 

The buzz

The Jaguars are heading back on the road.

This time, it’s for another two-week stint, and as they head to St. Louis for a road game at the Rams Sunday, the Jaguars are very much a team wanting something good to happen.

They want a victory, yes, and perhaps just as much, they want progress.

That’s something the Jaguars showed at times the first three weeks of the season, but on Sunday, they lost 37-3 to the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field, allowing 17 second-quarter points and being outscored by another 17 in the second half.

The loss left the Jaguars as one of four winless teams after four weeks, with Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all 0-4.

Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who missed Weeks Two and Three with a lacerated hand, completed 17 of 32 passes for 179 yards and no touchdowns with three interceptions against the Colts. He has completed 33 of 67 passes for 300 yards with no touchdowns and five interceptions in two games.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Sunday following the Colts loss he is “staying strong” in support of Gabbert, and said the following day he felt more strongly about that stance after reviewing video from the game.

 

Opponent’s storyline

The Rams were picked by some as a potential surprise contender this season, having finished last season 7-8-1 – a dramatic improvement from the previous season’s record of 2-14. Jeff Fisher, then in his first season as the Rams’ head coach after 16 seasons as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, coached St. Louis to its best season since 2006 last season, and did so with what at the time was the NFL’s youngest roster. The Rams have struggled at times to start the season, beating the Arizona Cardinals at home in the regular-season opener before losing their last three games to three NFC teams widely expected to contend for the postseason: the Falcons, Cowboys and 49ers. The Rams are the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense, with quarterback Sam Bradford completing 107 of 182 passes for 1,093 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions.

 

The broadcast

The game at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo., Sunday at 1 p.m. will be broadcast regionally on CBS-TV and locally on WTEV CBS-47. Bill Macatee will be the play-by-play announcer, with Steve Tasker providing analysis.

 

Player to watch

Wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The second-year wide receiver will play Sunday for the first time this season, and it sounded from listening to Gus Bradley as if Blackmon likely will start. Blackmon, the No. 5 selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, caught a team-high 64 passes for 865 yards and five touchdowns last season, but spent the first four games of this season serving a suspension. The Jaguars’ offense has struggled in his absence and is currently ranked 32nd in the NFL in total offense, 30th in passing. Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III last season developed into a productive young duo, and Blackmon’s return not only will put him back in the lineup, but should draw double teams and shaded coverages away from Shorts. Bradley on Monday said he liked Blackmon’s approach during the suspension, and although he could not practice, he lost body fat and gained weight and strength during the time.

 

What to watch

*Rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz is expected to miss a fourth consecutive game with an ankle sprain, but the Jaguars could have two other rookies starting in the secondary. Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien will make a fifth consecutive start at safety, and rookie Josh Evans will start alongside him if veteran Dwight Lowery can’t play. . . .

*Lowery and wide receiver Stephen Burton remain in the NFL’s concussion program as of Tuesday. The two were scheduled to be tested Tuesday, with an update expected Wednesday.

*Tight end Marcedes Lewis’ status also will be updated Wednesday. He left Sunday’s game after irritating a calf injury that kept him out the first three games of the regular season.

*Rookie Denard Robinson will be limited in practice this week and the pulled hamstring he sustained against Indianapolis will be evaluated. Robinson has played 14 plays this season.

*Wide receiver Mike Brown (back), who has missed the last three games with a back injury, continues to improve and could play against Denver next week.

*Cornerback Alan Ball sustained a rib contusion against the Colts, but likely will play against St. Louis. He missed Week Three with a groin issue.

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