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Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Linebacker losses killing Jaguars

By Paul Kuharsky

The Jaguars spoke today of staying the course, and it’s not like there is a choice.

They were hurt last season, and they are hurt again already, and the injuries are largely at two positions. When you have several injuries at the same spot -- for Jacksonville, on the offensive line and at linebacker -- odds are you don’t have the depth to maintain a standard there.

Then the question becomes, can you survive it?

So far the Jaguars haven’t. Tackling and protection/run blocking have been big issues through two losses, because they are down two of the three guys they expected to start at linebacker, and at least two of the five they would like to be starting on the offensive line.

I’ve written a lot about my thinking that the Jaguars didn’t do enough for their offensive line depth during the offseason. I know they lost Jason Spitz and John Estes to camp injuries. But they seem to be the only people around that think Guy Whimper is a competent third tackle.

Let’s talk defense here, though.

Linebacker is a spot where many teams don’t spent too much money. In a 4-3, you need pass-rushers and cover guys. On the level between them, have one fast sideline-to-sideline guy who can be a physical tackler, another who might be a lesser version of that, and a guy who can play well on run downs who won’t be part of the nickel.

Jacksonville went against that thinking. With Daryl Smith, a very good outside guy, already on board, the Jags spent big dollars in the 2011 free-agent market for Paul Posluszny and Clint Session.

It’s a great group, but it has not played together since Nov. 20, 2011 and has played just half of 18 possible regular-season game together.

Sunday in Indianapolis, the Jaguars will be without Session and Smith again. Neither has played this season, with Session’s career seemingly in jeopardy as he deals with post-concussion issues on PUP, and Smith out again with a groin issue.

Russell Allen and Kyle Bosworth are OK as fourth and fifth guys. Move them up two slots apiece, and you’ve got issues.

And the Jaguars have issues.