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Game 15 preview: Patriots at Jaguars

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  December 23, 2012 10:58 AM

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Don't let the record fool you, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been competitive with Chad Henne under center and you shouldn't overlook them.

That's the message Patriots coach Bill Belichick has no doubt drummed into his players' heads. Henne, who is 1-3 in his four games as the Jaguars' starter (and 1-4 in his career against the Patriots) has been able to move the chains for Jacksonville in a way that Blaine Gabbert could not. But the Jaguars still have issues getting into the end zone.

Henne began his tenure as the Jaguars' starter with a 24-19 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars followed with a 34-18 loss to the Buffalo Bills, a 17-10 loss to the New York Jets, and a 24-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins last week. He also had solid games in relief against the Houston Texans, a 43-37 OT loss, and the Indianapolis Colts, a 27-10 loss. Henne has thrown for 1,438 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions and has a 75.7 quarterback rating.

The last time Henne faced the Patriots, he was a member of the Miami Dolphins. On Monday Night Football, he went 30 of 49 passing for 416 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. He also ran for 59 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots won in the game in a shootout, with Tom Brady throwing for 517 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-24 win.

Bill Belichick had nothing but kind words for Henne earlier in the week.

"With Henne, you really got to defend everything," Belichick said. "You gotta defend all the receivers, you gotta defend the short balls, you gotta defend the play-action, the deep balls, a little bit of scrambling. I think he does a pretty good job of everything. And that's really the hardest thing for a defense is when you gotta defend everything as opposed to just nailing it down to this is what he likes to do and it's this small thing that they're pretty good at but it's just that one thing.

"You just can't say that about Henne. He does a nice job of distributing the ball and getting it to places where the defense is light. That's really what I think a quarterback should do. He's certainly done it well against us. He's had some of his best games against us. So we got a lot of respect for him."

With Maurice Jones-Drew out for the ninth straight game, and Rashad Jennings out with a concussion, the Patriots will likely see a large dose of running back Montell Owens, who played college ball at Maine. Owens has led the Jaguars in carries the past two weeks. He has 32 carries this season for 167 yards and one touchdown. The Jaguars also feature talented rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon (51 catches, 707 yards, 3 touchdowns) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (41 catches, 410 yards, 4 touchdowns).

The Patriots will be looking to rebound from their 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a game in which they turned the ball over four times and went down 31-3 at one point in the third quarter. They'll have to do without linebacker Brandon Spikes, who was ruled out Saturday with knee and ankle injuries, as well as cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who suffered a knee injury against the 49ers. Both players practiced during the week.

Here are the details for today's game:

Kickoff: 1 p.m

Records: Patriots 10-4; Jaguars 2-12.

TV/Radio info: CBS (Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcot); 98.5-FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:
Based on information distributed to the media, practice observations, and injuries for each team.

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Nate Solder, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Dan Connolly, RT Sebastian Vollmer, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Brandon Lloyd, QB Tom Brady, RB Stevan Ridley, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots defense: NT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, DE Chandler Jones, DE Rob Ninkovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Mike Rivera, CB Aqib Talib, CB Kyle Arrington, S Devin McCourty, S Steve Gregory.

Jaguars offense: WR Cecil Shorts III, LT Eugene Monroe, LG Austin Pasztor, C Brad Meester, RG Uche Nwaneri, RT Cameron Bradfield, TE Marcedes Lewis, WR Justin Blackmon, QB Chad Henne, FB Greg Jones, RB Montell Owens.

Jaguars defense: LDE Jason Babin, DT Tyson Alualu, C.J. Mosley, RDE Jeremy Mincey, OLB Julian Stanford, MLB Paul Posluszny, OLB Russell Allen, LCB Mike Harris, RCB Derek Cox, SS Dawan Landry, FS Dwight Lowery.

Inactives
(more to come)

Patriots: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm, hip), LB Brandon Spikes (knee, ankle), Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring, knee).

Jaguars: RB Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion).

@zuriberry

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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