The Jacksonville Jaguars took another hit to their pass rush as head coach Gus Bradley confirmed that Andre Branch's injury against the Detroit Lions would force him to "miss significant time at the beginning of the season."
According to Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union, Bradley said the plan going forward is to use second-year player Chris Smith as a two-down LEO and then bring in veteran Chris Clemons as the third down specialist.
"An ideal situation would be Clemons on third down and get him some reps on first and second down. Ryan Davis right now is another third down [option], some reps on first and second down. We always threw out Skuta as a possibility, especially on rushing opportunities."
But while the LEO position is getting slimmer for the Jaguars, I don't think Branch's absence will be that noticeable because, well, he's not that good.
Earlier this week, Jeff Lageman called Branch a "clean up guy" on 1010XL's Jaguars Today radio show. He needs someone who needs other guys to create pressure. And when there's no pressure to be found and Branch has to do it all on his own? Well, the results aren't pretty.
Smith, however, has shown himself to be the best pass rusher on the team this preseason. Even if it's not saying that much, he can create pressure on his own. Hell, even Cap Capi has shown he can do it through the first three weeks of the preseason.
Branch was the two-down LEO going into the season. Now it'll be Smith. I'm more hopeful of Smith's ability than I am of Branch's. I've seen what he can do. Now it's time to see what Smith can do.