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Jaguars staying another night in Houston because of Irma


The Jacksonville Jaguars have been in Houston so long now that they have a local gym.

The Jaguars were forced Monday to stay another night in Houston because of Hurricane Irma, creating a stressful situation for players, coaches and staff as well as family members awaiting their return.

"It's very difficult," coach Doug Marrone said Monday on a conference call with reporters. "You're looking at the news and trying to make sure we check on family. Operationally, from that end, it's always a challenge. Again, that's where all of our resources are put right now: Making sure that the safety for the people that are back in Jacksonville.

"As far as how people handle it, I think everyone handles it differently. Overall, we're just trying to create the best support group or net that we can do in communication between the people that we have here and the people that are back in Jacksonville."

The Jaguars stayed in Houston following a 29-7 victory against the Texans because of the impending hurricane and had to stay an extra night because the Jacksonville Airport was closed Monday after the storm passed. The St. Johns River endured historic surge levels and prompted evacuations for residents in and around the downtown area.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, tried to stick with their routine. Although Texans coach Bill O'Brien offered his team's facilities for Jacksonville to use, Marrone opted to take his players to a local YMCA for a Monday workout.

Jacksonville is scheduled to host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Marrone said officials are assessing damage to EverBank Field and will then determine whether the game will be played as scheduled. It also could get moved to Nashville, Tennessee or postponed to later in the season.

"The first step right now is to make sure our families are fine," Marrone said. "The second step is to make sure we can get back to Jacksonville. The next step is where our work is going to be done and then the next step, I would believe, is if the stadium is safe and things of that nature. ...

"The only thing I know is that people will be checking on the stadium, people will be checking on the fields. They're going to get back to us sometime just to give us a report to where everything is at so we kind of get a little bit of a heads up or a feel of what we're coming back to when we come back to Jacksonville."

The NFL is not close to making a decision regarding this week's games, said Joe Lockhart, the league's senior vice-president of communications. Tampa Bay's delayed season opener is scheduled at home against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and Raymond James Stadium is still being assessed for damage.

"We're having a different conversation than we thought on Friday," Lockhart said earlier on Monday. "Miami and Tampa Bay received less than expected, and Jacksonville probably received more. ... Looking at Jacksonville and Tampa, we don't have any definite word. We're still doing assessments. We hope to have something in next few days."

The Dolphins evacuated from South Florida before the storm's arrival and will practice in Oxnard, California, this week to prepare for their delayed start of the season. The Dolphins will have a team meeting Tuesday and will practice beginning Wednesday at the Dallas Cowboys' complex.

The Dolphins' first home game is now scheduled for Oct. 8 against Tennessee. Their stadium has a 1-year-old canopy designed to withstand a Category 4 hurricane.

A possible tornado was reported near the Dolphins' stadium during Irma, and structural engineers will inspect the canopy Tuesday for potential damage, a person familiar with the situation said. The team's complex in Davie appears to be fine, the person said.

The person confirmed the planned inspection to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins had not commented on the condition of the stadium. The team's complex in Davie, Florida, appears to be fine in the wake of the storm, the person said.

The Dolphins will open their season Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers. The Dolphins and Buccaneers had been scheduled to open their seasons this past Sunday, but that game was postponed until Nov. 19 because of Irma.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross asked the NFL to move his team's October game in London to Miami, and he was turned down, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Ross made the request last week when the Dolphins' schedule was scrambled by Irma. They must now play 16 consecutive weeks because their scheduled opener at home against Tampa Bay was postponed until Nov. 19 due to the storm.


AP Sports Writers Barry Wilner in New York and Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report.


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Mark Long, The Associated Press

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