Jaguars LB Daryl Smith eager for season debut

Jaguars LB Daryl Smith eager for season debut

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Daryl Smith has been a cornerstone of Jacksonville's defense for nearly a decade, playing all three linebacker spots and consistently making key plays all over the field.

He also missed just three games during his first eight years.

So sitting out the first five games this season with a groin injury has been frustrating for him and trying for his defensive teammates.

The Jaguars (1-4) rank 29th in total defense, a significant drop-off from 2011, but believe they can turn things around with Smith's expected return this week against the Oakland Raiders (1-5).

``It changes everything,'' fellow linebacker Russell Allen said. ``He's our best player on defense. Anything that you ask a linebacker to do, he's the best we have at it. He's our best blitzer. He's our best cover linebacker. He's stout against the run. He's smart. You name it, he brings it. We get better at everything with him on the field.

``We're excited to get him back.''

Smith injured his groin in training camp and missed the entire preseason. He returned to practice the week before the season opener, but suffered a setback. He hasn't practiced at full speed since.

``I know that I'm feeling pretty good,'' Smith said. ``It's been difficult. Once it happened, I had no control over it. I'm not going to waste my time worrying about stuff I have no control over. I'm just going to do what I can to get back.''

Smith might not be the only Jacksonville player to return against the Raiders.

Defensive ends George Selvie and John Chick are back at practice after sitting out the first five games because of knee injuries. Selvie was hurt in the preseason. Chick started the season on the physically unable to perform list following surgery in December.

Chick practiced in full pads Wednesday for the first time since his injury and is most likely a couple of weeks from a full return.

Selvie, meanwhile, is expected to make his season debut Sunday. He could provide a much-needed boost for a defense that has a league-low three sacks this season.

``The more the better,'' linebacker Paul Posluszny said. ``The more healthy (guys) we have, the better, because we're able to do more things. We feel that could make a huge difference for us.''

Jacksonville's lack of pass rush has been the team's No. 1 issue this season.

Jeremy Mincey, who signed a four-year contract worth $20 million in March, has five quarterback pressures. Rookie Andre Branch has been mostly a nonfactor, too. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton has been benched in favor of C.J. Mosley. And former first-round pick Tyson Alualu hasn't been the same since offseason knee surgery.

Depth has been part of the problem, with Mincey playing nearly every snap while Selvie and Austen Lane opened the season on the sideline.

Smith should help, too.

He set a franchise record with 15 tackles for loss in 2011. He also has 1,084 tackles, 21 1/2 sacks, 29 passes defended and nine forced fumbles.

``He's our best defensive player,'' Posluszny said. ``It's a significant difference when he's out there and when he's not. He's a guy that can change some things on the field, so to have him back really helps our defense across the board. You just know that you've got a guy that's completely reliable and someone you can always depend on to do the right things all the time.

``He doesn't need extra help. He's a true pro. Just his presence makes an enormous difference.''

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper came back to the District on Monday. No baseball was played.

Rain storms cycled through the DMV starting around 6 p.m. at first delaying the series-opening game between the Nationals and Phillies, before it was finally postponed at 10 p.m. The game will be made up as part of a split-doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game is at 1:05 p.m., the second at 7:05 p.m.

The Tuesday starters for both teams remain the same: Patrick Corbin for the Nationals and Jake Arrieta for the Phillies.

Washington will need an extra starter during the week because it is playing seven games in six days. For instance, the Nationals could call someone up to pitch the first game Wednesday, and have Max Scherzer pitch on regular rest Wednesday night. The doubleheader being played Wednesday instead of Tuesday allows the Nationals plenty of time to import a starter for the day, if they choose to do it then.

However, Tuesday’s forecast is also rain-filled. Stay tuned.



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The Capitals were mentioned on Jeopardy! and of course we're proud of it

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The Capitals were mentioned on Jeopardy! and of course we're proud of it

The Stanley Cup no longer resides in Washington, and all eyes have shifted toward the offseason as the Capitals look to retool for next season. But, that doesn't mean we can't stop and appreciate the magical 2018 season now and again.

A week after reminiscing about the championship run and ensuing parade, the famous game show "Jeopardy!" gave us one more moment of glory on Monday night.

One of the clues featured in the latest episode had the Capitals as the answer and even featured Alexander Ovechkin.

It appears that one of the contestants did answer it correctly. More importantly, according to the replies, it was also cleared up that no one brought up the Pittsburgh Penguins during that round. 

While it may be somewhat hard to cope with the fact that the Capitals will not be enjoying another offseason of championship partying in 2019 we can take pride in the fact that the question was about the Caps winning the Stanley Cup, and not centered around a dreaded title drought.