Struggling Jaguars Defense Now Dealing With Injuries

John Shipley

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense has struggled mightily for much of the last month, allowing over 26 points and 200-plus rushing yards in three straight games, all losses to AFC South opponents.

In the midst of poor play, the Jaguars' defense is also now facing injury issues. Strong safety Ronnie Harrison left the team's Week 12 42-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans with a concussion after 11 snaps and middle linebacker Myles Jack sustained a knee injury in the game as well. 

So far this week, both Harrison and Jack have yet to practice as Harrison is still in the concussion protocol. Also earlier this week, veteran linebacker Najee Goode was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. 

Goode is the team's top reserve linebacker, so if Jack can't play then Jacksonville has even deeper depth issues. Jacksonville signed veteran safety free agent Marcus Gilchrist to fill Goode's roster spot.

“We have a plan. We have to get 11 out there, so we have a plan with some of the guys obviously," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said during his Wednesday press conference at TIAA Bank Field. "The linebackers may be possibly moving positions. Some safeties, we brought in a safety yesterday, so we have a plan and we expect those guys to go out there and play well.”

Jack has never missed a game with injury since being drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Wash didn't provide an update to Jack's status, but seemed hopeful that he would have a shot to play in Week 13 vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I don’t. That’s something that obviously we’ll pass on to Doug [Marrone]," Wash said when asked about Jack's status. "He’s feeling better and better each day. At least we still have a couple, three, four days before the game that hopefully he can get healthy and we can get him on the grass.”

While Jacksonville may have to shake up its defensive lineup and use players in new spots this Sunday, or even use players who haven't started for the team this season, Wash isn't wanting to use injuries as an excuse for his flailing defense.

“To me, it’s not an excuse. We have to go out, we have to play better, and we have to coach better regardless of the 11 that are on the grass," Wash said. "We have confidence with the ones that we put out there, and we just have to do a better job of executing, and then when we get in position to make plays, we have to make plays.”

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