With Dante Fowler, Jr. out for the season with a torn ACL and Chris Clemons yet to practice due to personal reasons, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Chris Smith is likely to see plenty of work in the team's preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Smith, in his second-year out of Arkansas, is seeing increased reps in training camp at Jacksonville's pass-rushing Leo position, along with Andre Branch and Ryan Davis.
A 2014 fifth-round pick, Smith has impressed the coaching staff so far.
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"He's one guy who's turned our heads a little bit," head coach Gus Bradley said, via Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.
The 6-foot-1, 266-pound Smith said he's tried to absorb as much advice as he can from his older teammates as he looks to make an impact in his second year.
"It's all about working as a group, learning from guys like Branch, Ryan and Clemons," Smith said. "I just try to imitate them. They all tell me, 'Just go.' They give me tips. Clem has been playing for 20 years, so he must know something. I just listen to the guys and try to add that to my game."
After making the 53-man roster out of training camp last season, Smith was cut following Week 1 and later added to the practice squad. He was brought back to the active roster in November and appeared in seven games.
The Jaguars are counting Smith, who had three sacks in limited playing time last season, to help apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks. Friday will be his first test.
"Chris matured a lot from year one to year two," Jacksonville defensive line coach Todd Wash said. "We see that with a lot of young players. He's got an effective first step, and he's doing a real nice job for us pass rushing. We're excited about where he is."
(h/t Florida Times-Union)
Photo credit: Michael Conroy/AP