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The game is the easy part for Edgerrin James. It's all the pounding and studying leading up to it that's hard.

The Indianapolis Colts running back gets to test his theory again tonight (9, Ch. 7; Radio 550) when he faces the Jacksonville Jaguars and makes his debut in the prime-time showcase.

"If you work hard in practice, the games are so much easier," James says. "The game has been so easy for me, especially this year. I'm out there and nothing comes as a surprise."

Indianapolis (1-1) and Jacksonville (2-1) have played once: the Colts won, 41-31, in 1995.

James will have a close friend and old rival looking on tonight -- Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor, who will be playing for the first time this season.

James, selected fourth in the draft, led the NFL in rushing as a rookie last season with 1,553 yards. This year, he has 215 yards and two touchdowns rushing in two games.

He has also made 12 receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

"It's just the matter if you have an opportunity to make a play," he said. "And when you get that opportunity, do you make that play or do you let the other person beat you. It's just simple. It's a game."

And for someone who used to pick watermelons to help make money for his family, he is not adverse to hard work.

"The game is so easy, it's like overrated to me," he said. "If you go out and work hard, you know exactly what you're doing."

James and Taylor first met during high school. An injury to Taylor kept him out of the only game between their schools when James was on the varsity.

"His team won anyway," James recalled.

Taylor went on to college at Florida, where he finished fourth on the school's all-time rushing list. James joined the Miami Hurricanes, where he became the first back in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive years.

Taylor hasn't made a play since tearing a ligament in his left knee Aug. 11 in an exhibition game.

Without Taylor, the Jaguars are 26th among the league's 31 teams, averaging 83 rushing yards a game.

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