Koetter Must Adjust Jaguars Offense

When the Jaguars hired Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator this season, the tight end position figured to become a featured part of the offense.

The Koetter offense puts a lot of emphasis on passes to the tight ends, which is why Marcedes Lewis, George Wrighster and Greg Estandia caught 53 of the team's 185 passes in the first 11 games.

That's going to change now because they've lost two of their three tight ends, Wrighster and Estandia, for the season with injuries.

Both players were placed on injured reserve Monday after suffering injuries against Buffalo and both will undergo surgery. Wrighster suffered a torn ACL in his knee and Estandia a shoulder injury.

Their injuries left Lewis as the only tight end as they prepare to play the Indianapolis Colts Sunday in a game that will determine if they still have a shot at winning the AFC South title.

To fill the void at tight end, they quickly re-signed Richard Angulo, who was in training camp with the Jaguars and was waived four days before the season started.

They also have Isaac Smolko, who also was in camp and was waived when the final cuts were made on Sept. 1, on the practice squad.

The Jaguars used the other roster spot that opened up by the loss of Wrighster and Estandia to sign linebacker Leon Joe, who was waived last week by Buffalo.

Now the challenge for the Jaguars will be to overcome their tight end injuries.

Under Koetter, the tight end has played a major role in the offense. Lewis is second on the team with 27 catches, Wrighster has 17 and Estandia nine.

The wide receivers figure to pick up some of the slack and Matt   Jones, who has been inactive for three games and didn't appear in a fourth, may see more action. He saw some duty against the Bills and caught one pass.

Quarterback David Garrard likes to spread the ball around and eight different players, including Lewis and Wrighster, caught passes against the Bills.

"We'll tweak a thing here and tweak a thing there," Del Rio said. "We're going to find a way."

When Mike Peterson went out last week and the Jaguars replaced him by moving Daryl Smith to the middle and starting rookie Justin Durant, Del Rio said they cross train players so they can plug them in when they're hit by injuries.

"I'd be shocked if that's the last adversity that you face. The NFL season is a long season, very demanding," he said last week. "But we expect to continue to play at a high level and continue to win games."

When the Jaguars lost two players at a three-player position, there were no backups left to plug in so they had to sign Angulo.

Wrighster and Estandia join safety Gerald Sensabaugh and guard Chris Naeole as key players on the injured-reserve list. And they don't know how long Peterson will be sidelined with his broken hand. And defensive tackle Marcus Stroud is serving a four-game suspension for violating the steroids policy.

Del Rio doesn't like to dwell on injuries. As he said last week, "We can't stop and say, "woe is me' and look for pity because nobody is going to give it to you. So you plug in and carry on."

He said Monday, "We found a way to be resilient before and we'll do our best to be resilient again."

With the tight end corps depleted, the Jaguars may run more than they did in the first game against the Colts, when they passed on 11 of their first 17 offensive plays only to have Garrard suffer a high-ankle sprain on the 17th play that caused him to miss three games.


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