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Jaguars vs. Bears: 4 to watch 4

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The return of cornerback Aaron Colvin is something to keep an eye on as the Jacksonville Jaguars prepare to face the Chicago Bears. 

1. The Bye Week

Gus Bradley teams are 1-2 after the bye week but there’s no question the Jaguars have played better after a week off during the season. This bye was earlier than any other in the past four years but Bradley seems to think the team has a lot of energy going into this week after a Sunday off. A couple of injured players will return to the lineup who probably wouldn’t have played if there was a game on the schedule last week. After going 1-3 in the first quarter of the season, the Jaguars play three of the next four games on the road including a Thursday night game at Tennessee. The home game is against a surging, Jack Del Rio coached Oakland Raiders. A .500 record would be acceptable but not great in the next four games. 3-1 would be a lot better.

2. Aaron Colvin returns

After serving a 4-week suspension Aaron Colvin was added to the active roster this week leaving Dwayne Gratz as the odd-man out in the defensive secondary. Colvin can cover “in small spaces” according to the coaches and will get the assignment immediately to cover the slot receiver against the Bears. Colvin’s never lacked confidence and he brought plenty of that to the practice field this week. It was impressive to see his physical conditioning despite not being allowed to be with the team and maybe more impressive his mental sharpness on the defensive calls even though he hasn’t played in six weeks. “I broke the games down watching on TV,” is how Colvin explained it. He’s an upgrade and if Jalen Ramsey and Prince Amukamara stay healthy, that trio could make a difference in the back end of the Jaguars defense.

3. Chris Ivory Healthy?

After missing the first two games of the year with an unspecified medial issue, running back Chris Ivory has shown flashes of the player the Jaguars thought they signed in free-agency but nothing like what he looked like in preseason. Has he been 100% healthy? Hard to say but as a “thumper,” Ivory hasn’t hit the pile and moved it forward as he did during his time with the Jets.  That’s what the Jaguars are looking for against the Bears, a running game that can control the game with T.J. Yeldon a threat to get the ball in open spaces and Ivory sticking his nose up in there to make the defense respect the run and play action between the tackles. Running the football and not turning it over is the formula for success in the NFL and especially for the Jaguars.

4. No Turnovers

In their win against the Colts, the Jaguars won the turnover battle (+1) but more importantly didn’t turn the ball over and give Indianapolis and Andrew Luck extra possessions. The Bears aren’t world-beaters and whether it’s Brian Hoyer or Jay Cutler (questionable – thumb) at quarterback the Jaguars defense should be able to keep Chicago’s offensive production down. Scoring 20 points should be enough to beat the Bears unless Blake Bortles and company turn the ball over and give Chicago extra possessions and a short field. Gus Bradley admitted this week that Bortles having passes batted down at the line of scrimmage (more than any other QB in the league this year) is something they’re looking at, trying to find a reason.  That usually happens when Bortles is flat-footed in the pocket as the D-Linemen are reading his eyes. Batted balls lead to interceptions and INT’s lead to points for the other team. If the Jaguars win the turnover battle, or just don’t turn the ball over, the defense should take care of the rest.