Jags beat writer: Game will turn on Jones-Drew

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Jacksonville Jaguars beat writer Vito Stellino of the *Florida Times-Union *joined Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com to share his thoughts on the Week 3 Texans-Jaguars showdown at Reliant Stadium.

Stellino, a former president of the Pro Football Writers Association of America, received the Dick McCann Memorial Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989 while covering the NFL for the Baltimore Sun.

Nick Scurfield:You don't often see a team starting two rookies at offensive tackle. What are your impressions of Eugene Monroeand Eben Brittonthrough two games?

Vito Stellino:The Jaguars are the only team currently starting two rookie tackles. Both have a lot of potential and could be bookend tackles for the next decade. But they're still learning, and Mario Williams could have a big game against them, depending on where he lines up.

Nick Scurfield: Maurice-Jones Drewhas averaged close to five yards per carry but hasn't had a 100-yard game yet. Have the Jaguars been getting him involved enough in their game plan?

Vito Stellino:It's hard to get him involved more when you fall behind 31-3 in the third period the way they did last week against Arizona. Look for him to have a big role against the Texans to see if he can duplicate what Chris Johnson* *did to their rush defense.

Nick Scurfield:Is this the week that Jones-Drew finally breaks out?

Vito Stellino:They hope he breaks out. If the Texans don't stop him early, he'll get a lot of carries. The Jaguars want to find out if the Texans really have the worst rush defense or whether that's a misleading stat because the season is only two games old.

Nick Scurfield:What do you think about the play of quarterback David Garrard, who's completed only 52 percent of his passes this season?

Vito Stellino:Garrard played better in the second game than the first game, but he still isn't playing as well as he needs to play if {QUOTE} the Jaguars are to turn things around. He needs to recapture his form of 2007.

Nick Scurfield:Kurt Warner is coming off of a record-setting day against the Jaguars, and Matt Schaub just played the best game of his career. What does Jacksonville need to do better to slow down Schaub and the Texans?

Vito Stellino:They need to rush Schaub. They have one sack in two games. They can't let Schaub have a lot of time to throw. Even if Rashean Mathis can cover Andre Johnson, he'll find time to throw to his other receivers if the Jaguars don't mount a pass rush.

Nick Scurfield:The Jags have had some major turnover at wide receiver this season. Can you discuss what's happened at the position?

Vito Stellino:They cut three veterans who are no longer in the league -- Matt Jones, Reggie Williamsand Jerry Porter. And they traded Dennis Northcutt. And they signed veteran Torry Holtand drafted three rookies, and two of them, Mike Thomasand Jarrett Dillard, both native Texans, will make their debuts this week. Troy Williamsonwas supposed to be the deep threat this year, but he tore a labrum in the second game and is out for the year. The Jaguars haven't had a good receiving corps since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell departed. This new group is trying to emerge.

Nick Scurfield:How much in this game should we expect to see of Dillard, who played here in Houston at Rice?

Vito Stellino:Dillard goes in as the fourth receiver, so barring an injury, he may not have a big impact.
Nick Scurfield:I know you don't like to give predictions… but what's your prediction for the score and how this game will play out?

Vito Stellino:This game will turn on whether the Texans can stop Maurice Jones-Drew. If they do, they should win, but they could lose if they don't. Since the home team has won the four games the last two years and Houston has won three in a row at home against the Jags, they have to have the edge. And this game is more important to the Texans than the Jags, who are building. If the Texans can't beat the Jaguars at home, they don't figure to make the playoffs and Gary Kubiak will be on the hot seat.

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To read Stellino's coverage on the Florida Times-Union website, click here.

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