NFL Wire News

Loss of Jaguars’ LB Posluszny hurting run defense

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The Jacksonville Jaguars often refer to run-stuffing middle linebacker Paul Posluszny as the heart of their defense.

Since he was placed on the injured reserve list in late-October with a torn pectoral muscle, their run defense has been getting gashed.

In the seven games in which Posluszny appeared in the Jaguars’ lineup on the season, they allowed 110 rushing yards a game and 3.77 yards a carry. Following Posluszny’s departure from the lineup, Jacksonville is allowing 159 rushing yards per game and 4.77 yards a carry.

In Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, the Jaguars allowed 173 yards on 42 rushes. Texans running back Arian Foster ran 24 times for 127 yards, including a 51-yard scamper.

Since Posloszny went out for the season, they also gave up a 60-yard run to Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill, a 30-yard run to Miami’s Lamar Miller and a 40-yarder to Dallas running back Joseph Randle. Cowboys running back DeMarco also ran 100 yards on 19 carries in their win over Jacksonville in London.

Hill had 154 yards on 24 carries and Rashad Jennings of the Giants had 91 yards on 26 carries before he left with an ankle injury.

The Jaguars hoped to replace Posluszny with Jeremiah George, but he missed three games with a high ankle sprain and was limited to six special teams plays on his return against Houston, as the Jaguars brought him along slowly.

With George out, they’ve played J.T. Thomas, who is better outside at middle linebacker.

Bradley said that Thomas has done a “nice job” but he’s having problems filling Posluszny’s shoes.

–Defensive end Red Bryant said Alan Foster also got some help from the officials when the Jaguars seemed to be stopped on a fourth down run inches from the goal line and then changed direction and went outside for the score.

If the Jaguars stopped him, they would have had the ball early in the fourth quarter, trailing only 17-13. The touchdown gave them a 24-13 lead and they later added a field goal.

Bryant said he had grabbed Foster by the front of his uniform when a lineman tackled him and there was no call.

“What I’ve learned especially when your team isn’t winning a lot, you tend to not get calls,” he said. “J.J. Watt can raise his arms and get a holding call but we can’t get a holding call.”

Although he said a stop there would have been huge, he wasn’t blaming the loss on that play.

“The better team on the day won,” he said. “At the end of the day, the play in between the hashes dictated the game and the Houston Texans were better team today.”

He said the Jaguars now have to look forward to the last three games, including the rematch with the Texans in the final game.

“We have to keep our morale up and finish the season strong,” Bryant said. “We’ve got a big game coming up next week in Baltimore. We have to lick our wounds and feel sorry for ourselves tonight and then move on tomorrow.”

–Cecil Shorts’ career with the Jaguars may be winding down. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the year and he’s having a problem making a case for the Jaguars to pay him big money.

In the Houston game with the Jaguars trailing 24-13, he was open on a slant route and should have made a huge gain when Blake Bortles put his throw right in his hands. But Shorts dropped it.

“I was trying to run before I caught it,” he said. “I can’t let that happen. I think I’d still be running right now if I caught it.”

Bortles wound up targeting Shorts 10 times and he caught only two of them for three yards.

For the year, he has caught 40 passes for 419 yards after missing three of the first five games with hamstring issues.

The case to keep Shorts isn’t helped by the fact that three rookies, Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, have a lot of potential. They can replace Shorts with a No. 4 receiver.


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