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No hype, just preparation

Posted Oct 4, 2012

Jaguars LT Eugene Monroe: Approach playing Bears DE Julius Peppers will be same as any other week

Eugene Monroe cares little about the names, or even the reputations.

Not that it was always that way. Time was, if the Jaguars’ left tackle was playing a big-name pass rusher – as will be the case when he faces Julius Peppers Sunday – he would spend time during the week getting geeked up for the bigness of the moment.

And while it’s hard to say if not thinking about the opponents’ stature has anything to do with his own significant improvement during a four-year career, Monroe did say this:

Worrying about a name, or a player’s honors, statistics and awards?

It’s just not something he does anymore.

“You can’t look at it that way,” Monroe said as the Jaguars (1-3) prepared to play the Chicago Bears (3-1) at EverBank Field Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

“You have to prepare for them the same way you prepare for anyone else. You have to analyze his game, analyze your game and see where you think you can attack them.”

The way Monroe looks at it is you have to prepare the same no matter who the opponent. That’s how he approached playing Jared Allen of Minnesota in the regular-season opener, and it’s how he said he’ll prepare for facing Peppers Sunday.

Monroe held Allen without a sack in the opener. Because Allen led the NFL in sacks last year, the game further solidified a growing feeling around the NFL that Monroe is emerging as one of the NFL’s best left tackles.

“I’d say he’s playing good,” Jaguars offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said. “He’s playing very well. I think upfront he and Brad Meester are probably the two most solid guys right now upfront consistency-wise.”

The consistency of the offensive line in general is a major issue for the Jaguars this week, and not just because the Bears enter Sunday’s game as perhaps the NFL’s most disruptive defense.

The Bears are not only third in the NFL in sacks with 15, they routinely turn that pressure into turnovers. The Bears had five sacks against Green Bay in Week 2, six against St. Louis in Week 3, and while they had just one against Dallas Monday, they intercepted Tony Romo five times and returned two for touchdowns.

The Jaguars allowed six sacks to the Bengals this past Sunday, and with Blaine Gabbert under pressure often throughout the game, protecting the second-year quarterback is a priority this week.

“We’ve gone back and reviewed the game,” Monroe said. “We understand what we did wrong. We made the corrections, and we can’t let those things happen again. We’re looking to go out and have a good performance this weekend.”

If the Jaguars’ line has come under criticism early in the season, Monroe for a change has not. As the No. 8 overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, Monroe was oft-scrutinized and criticized his first two and a half seasons, but late last season, many analysts acknowledged his improvement.

That has continued early this season, particularly after his performance against Allen.

“He’s done a tremendous job,” Meester said. “That’s one of those positions that gets criticized if something goes wrong. He’s a tremendous player, and over the years, he’s been unbelievable.”

Monroe said he takes the same approach to the praise as he did to the criticism, which is to say he ignores it whenever possible and minimizes it when it’s not.

“It’s impossible not to hear those things,” Monroe said. “There are so many people close to me look it up to see how I’m doing. They check it and let me know what’s going on, but it really doesn’t make a difference to me. If someone says I’m playing bad or good, I still have to go play.

“You can’t worry about those types of things. After the season, you can go back and review and see how you did, but I have the Bears coming in on Sunday. What happened the week before doesn’t matter.”

That low-key, even-keel approach is one Monroe said he tries to take not only to criticism, but to preparation. As he sees it, to get overly emotional for a player such as Peppers is to risk being unprepared the following week when playing a lesser-known, but equally-dangerous player.

“I take a different approach in terms of energy, emotion and everything,” Monroe said. “Anger never helped someone have good technique in their pass pro. It never helps anyone have great hand placement. Being hyped really doesn’t help you do your job. I just try to stay level in everything I do.”

So, there will be no pictures of Peppers in his locker this week, just as there was no fist-banging and undue pre-game yelling when he faced Allen before the regular-season opener. For Monroe, consistency is the thing, and preparation. Anything else just isn’t his way. Not anymore.

“Early in my career, I did do that,” Monroe said. “I’d say, ‘Here’s this guy. Here’s the perception of him. He’s really good at doing this.’ I’d get hyped up and involved and all of that, but it doesn’t make a difference in how you play the game.”

In other Jaguars news Thursday:

*Wide receiver Laurent Robinson (concussion) and linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) missed practice a second consecutive day, while defensive end George Selvie (knee) practiced limited. Meester and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu returned to full work after missing Wednesday for non-injury reasons.


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