With quarterback Mark Brunell sidelined because of a knee injury, Jay Fiedler will make his first NFL start Sunday for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who need a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals to help erode the memory of a humiliating 41-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans and wrap up the division title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
“I don’t know if I ever envisioned a certain situation for my first start,” the Dartmouth graduate said, “but this is the situation I’m in now and I’m ready to take it. I don’t mind being thrown into the fire and getting some pressure thrown on me, that’s fine with me.”
Meanwhile, Brunell said he expects to be back at full strength for the playoffs.
Coach Tom Coughlin said the team is gearing Brunell for a comeback the weekend of Jan. 15, the second week of the playoffs. That means a victory Sunday, which would clinch a first-round bye, is critical for the Jaguars.
“Mark’s a tough guy,” Coughlin said. “He knows what the timetable is. He’s well aware of it.”
In Tennessee, Titan safety Marcus Robertson might be available for the playoffs despite needing plastic surgery for facial lacerations suffered Monday in a motorcycle accident. Doctors needed 150 stitches to close his cuts.
Coach Jeff Fisher said Robertson was wearing a helmet, but it wasn’t buckled on.
“He was very, very disappointed,” Fisher said. “He felt like he made a bad decision and let his teammates and fans down. That’s something he’s going to have to work through. He’s a little uncomfortable with his appearance right now. As I told the team, ‘When you see him, if you have a motorcycle, you’ll sell it.’ ”