JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (AP)
On paper, D'Anthony Smith is a third-year veteran in the NFL. On the field, Smith is a rookie.
Season-ending injuries in training camp the past two years have left the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman still in search of his first tackle in a regular-season game.
That should change in about a month. Smith is at full strength now, with no ill effects from the Achilles (2010) and toe (2011) injuries that cost him his first two seasons in the league. He's even sharing time with the first unit, as normal starters Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu work their way back to full strength following offseason surgeries.
When Knighton and Alualu do return, the Jaguars should have solid depth at that position.
''I'm playing with a sense of eagerness,'' Smith said. ''I'm ready to get into this rotation with Terrance and Tyson. It feels great to be healthy. I've been waiting a long time for this, back to 2010.''
That was when Smith suffered his first setback, injuring his Achilles the first week of training camp that year.
A year ago, he played in the team's first three preseason games before injuring his toe before to the Jaguars' final preseason game against St. Louis. A week later he was placed on injured reserve, costing him a second straight NFL season. The move was even more frustrating than the previous year, especially since Smith felt that he was fully recovered by midseason and could have helped the club.
''They wanted to go the conservative route and it was their call,'' Smith said. ''It was tough because I felt I could have played the second half, maybe more.''
Smith has been eager to make up for the two lost seasons. He's drawn the attention and praise of defensive line coach Joe Cullen.
''D'Anthony was snake-bitten, but that's behind him,'' Cullen said. ''He's really explosive and he's having a good camp overall. There's great competition at that position but he has the skills and the qualities. He's really playing well to this point.''
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey knows what the last two seasons have been like for his teammate. Mincey started the 2008 season on the PUP list and only played in three games. The following year, the Jaguars waived him in late August and no team signed him that season.
''I've been in his shoes, I know how he feels, how frustrating it can be,'' Mincey said. ''But I see a kid who is resilient, who won't give up, who keeps working to get better and better.
''I didn't have the injuries he had. His injuries were harder to come back from. I'm proud of him for the way he's stuck in there and fought through things.''
Staying injury-free is the answer to a long life in the NFL, said Mincey.
''That's the key for the NFL, period. You can't make the club when you're in the tub,'' he added.
NOTES: The Jaguars will be without DE Austen Lane (sprained ankle, two weeks) and LB Daryl Smith (groin, 10 days) .... WR Laurent Robinson passed his concussion test and was back at practice Friday morning. The news wasn't as good for two others who were tested for possible concussions. S Jeremiah Brown was sidelined with a concussion and CB Kevin Rutland did not pass his concussion test and will see a doctor for further tests ... CB Aaron Ross missed the team's scrimmage Friday night to attend the Olympic Games where his wife, Sanya Richards-Ross, will compete in the 200 and 400 meter races this weekend ... Jaguars owner Shad Khan is also going to the Olympics but won't leave until the day after the Jaguars first preseason game next Friday against the New York Giants.
Jags Looking For Contribution from Smith
Jags Illustrated Top Stories
LOCKED on JAGUARS 10-25Ben Freid gives you hot takes, a man who should be the next Jags GM/Head Coach and of course Jags vs Titans.
Jags IllustratedYesterday at 4:46 AM
Name Five QBs Worse Than Blake BortlesIt sounds crazy to say out loud, but you'll find out quickly just how hard it is to name five NFL quarterbacks who are worse than Blake Bortles. I know, it just doesn’t seem right.…
Jags IllustratedMonday at 2:00 PM
A Tale Of Two QuarterbacksThere was a franchise quarterback sighting in Jacksonville on Sunday at Everbank Field! Unfortunately for most of the fans that attended the game, it was not Blake Bortles.
Jags IllustratedMonday at 8:21 AM
LOCKED on JAGUARS 10-24Ben Freid gives you his Top 5 takeaways from last night's game. Is Blake Bortles a franchise qb? Also exclusive Marqise Lee interview.
Jags IllustratedMonday at 4:50 AM