The energy is still strong.
The vibe is good, confidence is high, and as defensive tackle
But when the Jaguars play the Houston Texans on Sunday in the 2012 regular-season home opener –an AFC South game, a rivalry game and a big game whatever the site – Knighton said there’s something needed to make that confidence, vibe and energy complete:
“Ultimately, working hard is cool, practicing hard is cool . . . ” Knighton said as the Jaguars (0-1) prepared to play AFC South-leading Houston (1-0) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
“All that type stuff is cool, but ultimately, you do that to win. You don’t do that to say you worked hard. Ultimately, you want to win. You can go 0-16 and be the hardest-working team in the NFL, but ultimately, that doesn’t matter.
“The validation should show in your record. That’s what we’re working toward.”
The Jaguars, after a 3-1 preseason, rallied from a late 20-15 deficit to take a 23-20 lead in the final minute before losing in overtime, 26-23, to Minnesota.
“No heads were hung low last week,” safety
Jaguars players talked throughout the offseason about a positive new direction under new Head Coach Mike Mularkey, and they said this week that feeling remains strong.
“We’ve put a lot of work in over the last six months, dating back to offseason workouts,” Jaguars guard
“We’re here to show our city that we’re here to make noise.”
A victory Sunday would be more than validation. A victory Sunday would not only give them a victory over a team many favor to win a second AFC South title and push for a Super Bowl appearance, it would move them into a tie for first place in the AFC South two weeks into the season.
The Texans lead the division after a season-opening victory over Miami, with the Jaguars losing the opener to Minnesota, the Colts losing to Chicago and Tennessee losing to New England.
“We win this game and we’re 1-0 in the division,” Jaguars defensive end
That the game also is the 2012 regular-season home opener means it’s the first regular-season home game since Mularkey took over as head coach and since Shad Khan took over as owner. While the Jaguars lost the opener, an offense that ranked No. 32 in the NFL last season looked significantly better, with second-year quarterback
Jones-Drew, a Pro Bowl selection the past three seasons, rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries against Minnesota a week after ending a 38-day holdout. Mularkey said this week Jones-Drew will have a heavier workload.
As for Jones-Drew, he said he’s ready for an increased load whatever the circumstance, and he said the circumstances around Sunday’s game adds “a bunch.”
“Obviously it’s against Houston,” Jones-Drew said. “Everyone knows that we don’t like each other so it’s going to be a fun game, a very physical game. There will be some extra juice in the stadium.”
Said Knighton, “We’re looking forward to playing them, to see where our team stands. This is a great way to start off, a division opponent. What better way to set the stage than against a team that’s favored to win the division and be in the Super Bowl?”
And while many around the Jaguars have spent time this week talking about injuries, and the chance to change perception with a victory, the players playing the game will tell you that what’s important is it’s a division game. And when you have a chance for that division game to put you in first place, that’s importance enough.
“We’re focused on the Texans,” Gabbert said. “It’s crucial. Having a division game so early on makes it fun and interesting. These games are extremely competitive. You have to win the division first to go to the playoffs, so having this opportunity to play them out of the get-go, it’s going to be fun.”