Carolina Panthers

Panthers and Jaguars like to run

CHARLOTTE -- Don't tune into Sunday's Carolina-Jacksonville game at 3:55 p.m. hoping to catch the last few minutes -- it might be over by then.

It's clear the Panthers would prefer to run as often as possible, and the Jaguars are one of the best teams in the league at it.

Jacksonville's exhibited the better effort this year, ranking second in the league running the ball, averaging 141.0 yards per game.

And like the Panthers, they're doing so with a pair of backs, splitting veteran Fred Taylor (173 carries, 812 yards, two touchdowns) and second-year Maurice Jones-Drew (134-631-8). Taylor's 11th in the league in rushing yards, Jones-Drew 20th.

That each of them averages 4.7 yards per carry speaks to why the Jaguars have been so successful, able to withstand the three-game absence of starting quarterback David Garrard to stay firmly in the AFC playoff hunt.

"Like a lot of NFL teams today, they have more than one back," Panthers coach John Fox said. "I wouldn't say every team in the league does, but most guys spread the load there and they do a good job of that.

"They are big up front and they are doing a good job blocking. Their quarterback is playing well, so they've been able to throw the ball effectively enough to keep people off of them and from loading up the box too much. One is a little bit lower to the ground and built a little bit blockier (Jones-Drew). But the other guy, he can stick his foot in the dirt and change direction as good as anybody."

That's why the game could be a quick one, since both teams are well beyond the league average of 326.4 rushing attempts per team. Jacksonville has 391 attempts (fourth in the league), while the Panthers have 347 (10th), despite playing from behind most of the year.

"Guys look forward to a physical game," Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker said. "Guys take pride in that. It'll be a challenge for us, and we look forward to it."

• BETTER TO TAKE: After generating six turnovers last week against San Francisco, the Panthers are up to sixth in the league in that category. The five teams above them (New England, San Diego, Indianapolis, Detroit and Cincinnati) are a combined 39-21 this year.

Since Fox took over in 2002, the Panthers have 187 takeaways, second only to Baltimore's 190. New England's third at 186.

• EXTRA POINTS: Rookie wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett was ruled out for Sunday because of a right knee sprain. He had an MRI test Thursday, and that they haven't put him on injured reserve with four weeks left indicates the damage isn't that bad.

He has a sprained MCL. Fox referred to him as "day-to-day."

The rest listed on this week's report are all probable -- running back DeShaun Foster, linebacker Na'il Diggs and safety Chris Harris.

There will be several reunions going on Sunday, as former Panthers cornerback Terry Cousin and offensive lineman Tutan Reyes line up for the Jaguars, in addition to coach Jack Del Rio and defensive backs coach Alvin Reynolds. Safety Deke Cooper is the only former Jaguar on the Carolina roster.

Friday's practice was a freezing affair, something they won't have to worry about in Jacksonville, where temperatures are expected to be in the mid-70s.

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