Mike Mularkey’s back, and ready to return to normal.
Mularkey, the Jaguars’ head coach, spoke publicly early Wednesday afternoon for the first time since being hospitalized part of Monday, and his message couldn’t have been clearer:
He’s back to work. He’s back preparing.
And the focus is now on Sunday.
“I feel better,” Mularkey said as the Jaguars (2-11) prepared to play the Miami Dolphins (5-8) at Sun Life Stadium in Davie, Fla., Sunday at 1 p.m.
Mularkey said he appreciated people’s concern and well-wishes Monday and Tuesday.
“It’s probably a good example of needing to take a little better care,” he said. “When your body is telling you there’s something to get checked out, get it checked out. I did.
“I’m feeling better and going full-speed ahead.”
Players on Wednesday were ready to focus on preparing for Miami, too, but said they were happy to see Mularkey around EverBank.
“I was a little worried about him,” Jaguars defensive tackle Terrence Knighton said. “It’s a long season. It’s very tough on a head coach, especially knowing how passionate he is about this team, how he prepares. It’s especially hard for a head coach. The onus is on him. He’s passionate. He probably was stressed out about the season.”
Knighton said he spoke to Mularkey Wednesday morning to “see if he was OK.”
“We’ll continue to work and hopefully the results will be different,” Knighton said.
Mularkey, who has a team policy discouraging players from discussing injuries publicly, didn’t provide extensive details on why he was hospitalized. Asked if he was under stress, he paused and laughed.
“We’re moving on here to Miami and trying to get a win on the road.”
“She said he was watching film, preparing for Miami,” Henne said Wednesday. “It’s not easy, in his position. He’s back to normal, doing the same things he’s been doing all year.”
The focus Wednesday also was on the status of several players who missed Sunday’s game with injuries, including wide receiver Cecil Shorts and running back
Shorts, the Jaguars’ leading receiver this season who missed Sunday’s home loss to the New York Jets with a concussion, was cleared to practice, and he said he planned to do so. Mularkey said Shorts would indeed practice, but said the team would be cautious as he began that process.
“I want to help my team and try to win,” said Shorts, who has seven touchdowns this season and who caught a touchdown pass in four consecutive games before missing last week. “It’s tough being out. I feel good. We’ll see how the week goes. It’s definitely serious.
“I’m going to be smart about this. As much as I want to play and would like to play and help this team, my health is more important.”
Mularkey said the hope is that Shorts can play Sunday.
“It’s more positive than it has been, obviously, than last week,” Mularkey said. “I think if we handle it correctly today it should be good.”
Jones-Drew, out the last seven games with a foot sprain, remains very questionable, Mularkey said, though he said the hope remains to have the NFL’s 2011 rushing champion play sometime in the final three games.
Jones-Drew was not scheduled to practice Wednesday and Mularkey said he would increase his conditioning work in hopes of playing this season.
“We’re still hoping,” Mularkey said. “We’re going to work a little more with him with (strength coach) Tom Myslinski and make sure if it is this week or next week he’s in tip-top condition, so that’s not the next thing we have to deal with. We want his conditioning to be at a high level.”
Whatever the injury situation, and whatever players are available, players said Wednesday as they have said throughout recent weeks that winning remains a priority – with Henne saying that there could perhaps be a touch more incentive in that area this week.
“As a team, we want to win for Coach Mularkey,” Henne said. “He stepped into being the head coach. We stepped in as players. All together, we’re all in. as one.
“We get a win, it eases a lot of stress.”