Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Five Months after First Trip, Jaguars Will Make Improbable Return to New England

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Five Months after First Trip, Jaguars Will Make Improbable Return to New England

Article excerpt

Byline:

On the night of Aug. 6, a week into a taxing training camp, the Jaguars left the heat of Florida for the comfortable temperatures and nonexistent humidity of Massachusetts.

During the following four days, the Jaguars practiced three times and played a preseason game against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Who knew the Jaguars' 2017 season would feature a return trip to Foxborough?

Five months ago, the "Believe In The Jaguars Club" was mostly limited to those inside their building. Even the most resolute fans thought an improvement from 313 to 78 wins would qualify as a success.

When the Jaguars fly back to New England this Saturday, it will be for Sunday's AFC Championship Game and a berth in Super Bowl LII.

Several Jaguars pointed to the joint practices with the Patriots - two in pads and one as a walkthrough - as serving as equal parts a barometer for their progress and a confidence boost for their upcoming season, which included a 106 regular season, AFC South title and a first playoff berth in a decade.

"It was a long time ago, but that was really good for us," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "The Patriots are the epitome of what you want to be in this league. Wellcoached. Hardworking. Incredible team. Just to experience that and see how they work was huge for us."

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Said tight end Marcedes Lewis: "That helped us a lot as far as our confidence and knowing we can compete. When we went up there, we did some good things and we knew we had some things to work on. They helped jumpstart us."

During the Patriots practice sessions, Campbell and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Colvin did not participate because of injuries. Cornerback A.J. Bouye and receiver Allen Hurns were injured during the first day. Right tackle Jermey Parnell was injured on the second day. A subplot that week was the seemingly neverending saga involving left tackle Branden Albert, who retired early in camp only to express interest in returning. …

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