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Jags' Brunell May Miss A Step


It wasn't pretty for the Jacksonville Jaguars once Mark Brunell left the game.

And that was with a 24-0 lead.

Coach Tom Coughlin left open the possibility Monday that Brunell could miss Sunday's game against Tampa Bay with the strained groin that forced him out on a "precautionary" basis at halftime of Jacksonville's 24-11 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

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"He's got to get to the point where he's confident with all maneuvering you have to do - the turning, opening and closing," Coughlin said. "Once you get to where you can exchange the ball, where you can drop, and where you can do whatever you have to do to defend yourself, you should be fine."

That could be by next Sunday, but Coughlin seemed doubtful it would be by Wednesday, when the Jaguars (7-2) resume full-speed practice.

The coach said Brunell would undergo extensive treatment through the week. His status on the NFL injury report will be determined Wednesday.

"I'd say he's day-to-day," Coughlin said. "At best, you could hope that he'd be limited, which means less than half the plays" in practice.

If he can't play, the Jaguars will have to improve drastically under Jamie Martin, a fifth-year veteran who has never started an NFL game.

Given the big lead and the quarterback situation, the Jaguars could have been expected to go into something of a shell against the Bengals. But they gained just 64 yards in the second half and suffered a clear letdown without Brunell, who came into the game as the league's seventh-rated passer with a 97.3 quarterback rating.

"Even though we came away with a `W,' we were still disappointed that we couldn't control the empo of the game the way we're capable of," offensive lineman Leon Searcy said. "We started off real fast, but there were too many breakdowns, too many miscommunications."

The problems showed everytime the offense took the field in the second half.

For instance, Fred Taylor finished with 118 yards, but only 33 in the second half. He gained 22 of those in the final 1:55, an effort to help him break the century mark for the third time this season even though the game had long been decided.

Coughlin said the situation should improve if Martin has to start next week.

"There's no question in my mind that with more reps, Jamie can play better than he played yesterday afternoon," Coughlin said.

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