Bengals Game Day Newsletter 5 Nov 5th Cincinnati_Digital - Page 61

– HELLO NOVEMBER TIED FOR FIRST PLACE, THE JAGUARS BEGIN NOVEMBER IN CONTENTION FOR THE AFC SOUTH TITLE JACKSONVILLE–So much for a quiet bye week. Poised for the stretch run with an opportunity to vie for the AFC South title, the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) needed the past week to rest key players battling injuries and illnesses and regroup for the second half of the NFL season. While they and others battling seven weeks of bumps and bruises rested, the organization made moves to solidify a defense already leading the league in sacks (33) and second in take-aways (16) as the calendar turned to November. The fi rst move was locking down a core piece of the defense for the foreseeable future. Linebacker Telvin Smith signed a four-year contract extension with the team, keeping the vocal and speedy defensive leader in Jacksonville. Smith was playing the fi nal year of his rookie contract in 2017. “It’s been a privilege these last four years, and there is so much that I want to accomplish as a teammate and as an individual in this league,” Smith said in a statement after the team announced the deal. “W e have created a bond in that locker room and everyone is committed to our goal of winning football games. I am honored to be a part of that culture and help continue to lead this team in the right direction.” Smith leads the Jaguars in tackles (58) and tackles for loss (8), but he also has a knack for being around the ball with two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. His 58 tackles is sixth-best in the NFL, and the 8 tackles for loss are tied for sixth-best in the league. The Valdosta, Georgia, native was a fi fth- round draft pick for the Jaguars out of Florida State in 2014, and is the second member of the Jaguars’ 2014 draft class to sign a second contract with the team, joining center Brandon Linder. The second move last week was made in hopes of solidifying a part of the defense that has been an issue at times early in 2017: the 31st- ranked run defense. The Jaguars traded a 2018 sixth-round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for former fi rst-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Marcell Dareus. The seventh-year pro from Alabama has 35.0 sacks in 85 career games, but his impact should be felt immediately in run defense. At six-feet-three and 331 pounds, his stoutness in the interior should help plug the middle. “We expect him to be stout against the run and to be able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks,” Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin said in a statement after Dareus passed a physical exam last Saturday morning to make the deal offi cial. “This was a great opportunity to