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Austen Lane injury: What impact will Jaguars DE have in his return?

For the first time since his rookie season, the Jaguars might finally see a fully healthy Austen Lane take the field.

Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

With Austen Lane and George Selvie out from injuries suffered in the preseason and John Chick on the PUP list, still recovering from a torn patella tendon, there has been very little rotation at the defensive end position for the Jaguars. With the thin group at the position, Jeremy Mincey has had to take a huge amount of snaps, as has Andre Branch, while Aaron Morgan has occasionally rotated through.

In Week 4 though, the team is likely to get some help, as it will likely mark the return of Austen Lane to the lineup. After limited participation throughout practices last week and a questionable status against the Colts, Lane returned to practice with full participation for the first time during the 2012 regular season.

What kind of an impact will he make with the team? Well, it's extremely difficult to predict.

He made very little impact as a rookie despite being forced into the starting lineup for nine games when a knee injury took out Aaron Kampman and crappiness took out Derrick Harvey. While forcing pressure at times, Lane wasn't able to sack a quarterback until his sophomore season, but that year was short-lived.

It wasn't revealed until after the end of the season that Lane had a torn labrum suffered in training camp that sent him to injured reserve after the pain became too severe following the Jaguars' Week 6 game. That came after a very solid training camp that had many excited about the Murray State product's pass rushing potential.

He continued to impress in shorts during the 2012 season, but a foot injury curbed his progress and held him out until now. Unless he is hiding a mystery injury or he's not actually 100 percent as he told he was, for the first time since his rookie season a healthy Lane will take the field on Sunday.

Could he be the missing piece for a Jaguars defense that has yet to see a sack recorded by a defensive end? That seems to be a premature hope for a player that has one career sack, but cautious optimism might be warranted for a talented player that has had time to develop since being drafted from a FCS as a raw player with upside.

At the very least, the Jaguars might finally be able to see what they have in Austen Lane, beginning on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.