Sud­denly pass-happy Jags visit throw­ing-chal­lenged Cow­boys

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS - By Schuyler Dixon

AR­LING­TON, Texas—With Blake Bor­tles pil­ing up pass­ing num­bers like never be­fore in his ca­reer, Jack­sonville coach Doug Mar­rone wants to get the Jaguars back to run­ning.

Dak Prescott, Ja­son Gar­rett and the Dal­las Cow­boys have the op­po­site is­sue head­ing into a Sun­day matchup with fa­mil­iar faces on both side­lines.

Bor­tles has a chance to be just the fifth NFL quar­ter­back with at least 375 yards pass­ing in three straight games af­ter es­tab­lish­ing a ca­reer high in con­sec­u­tive weeks. He also had a ca­reer-high four in­ter­cep­tions last week, which helped ex­plain a 30-14 loss to un­de­feated Kan­sas City.

There was some­thing else that both­ered Mar­rone against the Chiefs: a sea­son-low 17 rush­ing at­tempts to go with Bor­tles’ per­sonal high of 61 throws. The only other game this sea­son with fewer than 20 car­ries? The other loss for Jack­sonville (3-2), against Ten­nessee.

“That’s not the way we want to play,” Mar­rone said. “I prob­a­bly should have done a bet­ter job of that. I just felt like we were press­ing and try­ing to

make plays. I just think over­all I have to do a bet­ter job of man­ag­ing that.”

Of course, the Jaguars have some pretty good rea­sons to tilt to­ward the pass. Run­ning back Leonard Four­nette will be out for the fourth time in six games with a ham­string in­jury. Jack­sonville is on its third left tackle in Josh Walker.

The Jaguars signed twotime All-Pro run­ning back Ja­maal Charles this week and ex­pect him to con­trib­ute be­hind T.J. Yel­don against the Cow­boys (2-3).

“I think we were pretty for­tu­nate last year as far as stay­ing healthy,” Bor­tles said. “This year we haven’t been quite as lucky. These next three weeks, not look­ing ahead or any­thing, but to get to the bye week are im­por­tant with the amount of guys we have down.”

The Cow­boys aren’t look­ing for 375 yards pass­ing from Prescott be­cause they have the NFL rush­ing leader in Ezekiel El­liott. But in­ef­fi­ciency throw­ing is the big­gest rea­son Dal­las has a los­ing record and ques­tions in­side and out­side the locker room about play-call­ing.

The bright side for Dal­las: an­other home game. The Cow­boys are try­ing to win the first three at home for the first time at 9-year-old AT&T Sta­dium. The worst of the of­fen­sive is­sues have been on the road.

“You just keep bang­ing away,” Gar­rett said. “There’s a lot of good things we’re do­ing of­fen­sively. We have to con­tinue to build on those. There’s plenty of things we’ve got to shore up and we’ll try to ad­dress those things as di­rectly as we can.”

Things to know about the first meet­ing be­tween these teams since the Cow­boys made their first reg­u­lar-sea­son trip to Lon­don four years ago:

FA­MIL­IAR FACES

Dal­las re­ceiver Allen Hurns, who ques­tioned the play call on one of Prescott’s in­ter­cep­tions but said he wasn’t sec­ond-guess­ing of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Scott Line­han, spent his first four years in Jack­sonville be­fore sign­ing with the Cow­boys in free agency this past off­sea­son.

Safety Barry Church, in his sec­ond year with the Jaguars, was a cor­ner­stone for the Dal­las de­fense the last four of his seven sea­sons with the Cow­boys. Both will be fac­ing their for­mer team for the first time.

“It’s just like play­ing against your brother,” said Hurns, who had his first touch­down with the Cow­boys in last week’s over­time loss to Hous­ton but has just eight catches. “You don’t want to lose. I don’t want to say this game is big­ger than any other game, but for sure one I want to win.”

SPEAK­ING OF FA­MIL­IAR

Charles was a stand­out at Texas and won a na­tional cham­pi­onship with the Longhorns as a fresh­man dur­ing the 2005 sea­son. The for­mer Chiefs star whose ca­reer has been marred by knee in­juries lives near Hous­ton.

The 31-year-old had been un­signed af­ter spend­ing last sea­son as a backup in Den­ver. His re­turn will be his first visit to the home of the Cow­boys, a week af­ter he was in Dal­las watch­ing the Texas-Ok­la­homa ri­valry.

“I’m ready to get the dust off these cleats,” he said.

DE­FENSE FIRST

The Jaguars rode their de­fense to the AFC cham­pi­onship game last sea­son. The Cow­boys are re­ly­ing on that unit more than usual with the dif­fi­cul­ties in the pass­ing game and an of­fen­sive line un­set­tled be­cause of the ab­sence of four-time Pro Bowl cen­ter Travis Fred­er­ick, who is bat­tling a nerve con­di­tion.

Both teams are in the top five in scor­ing de­fense and bot­tom seven in scor­ing of­fense.

“It’s go­ing to be a bat­tle among the de­fenses,” Dal­las de­fen­sive line­man Tyrone Craw­ford said. “That’s the way I’m look­ing at it.”

AP Photo/Roger Stein­man, File

■ Dal­las Cow­boys quar­ter­back Dak Prescott (4) passes Sept. 30 in Ar­ling­ton, Texas. The Dal­las pass­ing game hasn’t been very ef­fi­cient through five games, which helps ex­plain a los­ing record.

AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File

■ Jack­sonville Jaguars quar­ter­back Blake Bor­tles (5) throws a pass dur­ing the first half of an NFL foot­ball game against the Kan­sas City Chiefs on Oct. 7 in Kan­sas City, Mo. Bor­tles has a chance to be­come the fifth NFL quar­ter­back to throw for at least 375 yards in three straight games, but the Jack­sonville Jaguars would like to get back to run­ning the ball de­spite sev­eral in­juries that are mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult.

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