How much more can this team take?
The Jacksonville Jaguars spent 38 days in training camp and the preseason without the services of Maurice Jones-Drew. Now the team that has fallen to 1-5 following a 26-23 overtime loss to Oakland on Sunday could be without the services of its star runner for an indefinite period of time.
Jones-Drew, who was injured on the second play of the game Sunday, has been ruled out of the game this coming weekend against Green Bay at Lambeau Field. However, in terms of his status for the rest of the season, according to a story on SBNation.com and ESPN's Adam Schefter,"the Jaguars have not ruled out the possibility of RB Maurice Jones-Drew having the dreaded Lisfranc injury."
Jones-Drew was not the only player who suffered injuries against the Raiders, as starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert was sacked by Tommy Kelly and left the game with an injured left shoulder.
Gabbert was seen in the second half of the game on the sideline in a sweatshirt and appeared to be mobile. Whether he will play against the Packers is not known yet.
Jones-Drew was placed in a walking boot and on crutches in a sweat suit before the team left the West Coast.
So much for a homecoming for MJD, who is from California and spent his college years at UCLA.
The injury does more than mess up the Jaguars’ game plan for the Packers, who can score at will if the Jaguars defense continues to allow teams to get back into games, like they did Sunday after taking a 20-6 lead in the second half.
But the main focus of the fans, the team and the NFL to some extent now rests on the NFL’s leading rusher from 2012.
This is an injury that rivals Mark Brunell’s high-ankle sprain in a preseason game in 1997 versus the New York Giants. The injury, once thought to be worse than it was, caused the Pro Bowl quarterback to miss the first few games of the NFL season.
When teams appear to be on the ropes and fading fast as the Jaguars seem to be, it becomes even more gut-wrenching when star players are injured and out of service—things become bleak.
The Jaguars, who hold the same record now as they did at the same time last season, appeared to be a new ball club after their bye week. Gabbert came out throwing, connecting with Cecil Shorts on a 41-yard touchdown strike as part of a 17-3 lead in the first half. He completed 8 of 12 passes for 110 yards and a score before exiting the game. Backup Chad Henne proved to be little help.
An extended amount of time on the shelf for MJD could also mean more time in the starting lineup for Rashad Jennings, who played well in Jones-Drew’s absence in the preseason.
Does this team have the fortitude to get through this battered time, come through the smoke and play better and more competitive football?
That question needs to be answered, but first this team and MJD need to be on better footing.