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Which Jaguars cornerback will cover Fitzgerald?

9/17/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

The Jaguars resisted any temptation to flip their cornerbacks during the course of their season-opening loss at Indianapolis.

They have confidence in rookie Derek Cox and didn’t feel like they’d solve any problems by moving him away from Reggie Wayne and putting veteran Rashean Mathis on the Colts’ top receiver.

“I think at halftime we felt good about those guys playing left and right,” defensive coordinator Mel Tucker told Jacksonville reporters on Friday. “I think Derek made some decent plays in the first half so that was not a major concern at that point in the game.”

I understand the reluctance to make the move. Asking Cox to start is a big assignment. Asking him to be able to play on either side right from the start is even bigger.

Tucker didn’t offer up much when asked about the Jaguars’ plans for Arizona, who’s got a receiver who can be even more difficult to cover than Wayne in Larry Fitzgerald.

“I think that’s going to be one of those things where there’s going to be a lot of interest going into the game,” Tucker said. “I think we’ll just have to see what happens. We’re going to do what we feel like is going to give us the best chance to win.”

"They move [Fitzgerald] around. They do a nice job offensively. They have multiple personnel groupings. There’s a shift or a motion on almost every play. They have a good scheme. They have a great quarterback and excellent skill players. It seems like they’re starting to find a running game, so they have a lot to defend. We’re going to have to be at our best.”

Arizona does move Fitzgerald around and it’s not as if their other receivers can’t hurt a defense, particularly one that doesn’t generate a consistent pass rush. I’d expect Cox and Mathis and Tyron Brackenridge all to get chances to work against him.

Cardinals at Jaguars is a very intriguing game to me. The home team is built to run it and wear a defense down; the guests are built to throw it and break a defense with big plays. Each offense could use at least a small dose of what the other does well to achieve more balance.

I’ll be at Texans-Titans and will always lean heavily towards games pitting two AFC South teams. But if I was picking one non-division Jaguars’ home game this year to be at, this would be the one.