Five Injuries the Jaguars Cannot Afford

The Jaguars struggled with injuries to key players from time to time last season and look forward to starting 2008 with a clean bill of health. But what happens if things don't stay that way? Team expert Charlie Bernstein takes a look at the five players the Jaguars can least afford to lose to injuries.

With the dead zone officially setting in, there is not much Jaguars related news. We scoured the network, and found this interesting piece on the Arizona Cardinals site, We figured that we can do our own piece involving your Jaguars.

1. David Garrard- This one isn't very hard to figure out, as good as the Jaguars team is, they aren't going to go very far without Garrard. Garrard missed three games last season and the Jaguars managed to win two of those three. If he misses any more time than that in 2008, the playoffs will be far from a lock in the ultra-competitive AFC. Garrard is the new face of the Jaguars franchise, and rightfully so, as he ended a five-year long quarterback controversy with his stellar play.

Backup: Cleo Lemon

2. John Henderson- With Marcus Stroud now departed, "Big" John Henderson is the remaining tower in the middle, and the Jaguars would have a very difficult time stopping the run if he isn't playing. Tony McDaniel has the potential to be a very good DT, but he and Rob Meier would have a tough time playing every down.

Backup: Tony McDaniel/Rob Meier

3. Maurice Jones-Drew- Jones-Drew is the Jaguars best playmaker (outside of Garrard). Although Jones-Drew is technically not a starter, he's a guy that opponents must be aware of every time he steps on the field, and his speed and power creates mismatches for nearly every opponent. Although the Jaguars still have Fred Taylor, both backs have thrived in the two-back system, and if Jones-Drew is out for any extended period of time, the Jaguars suffer on offense and special teams.

Backup: Chauncey Washington/D.D. Terry

4. Rashean Mathis- Although Mathis had a rough 2007 campaign, he is clearly the most talented player in the Jaguars secondary, and the team would suffer without him. When Mathis is in top form, he's very close to a shutdown corner, and one of the best two or three corners in the league. Even when Mathis is off his game, he's still better than most.

Backup: Drayton Florence/Scott Starks or Trae Williams moved to nickel

5. Daryl Smith- The Jaguars have depth at linebacker with Mike Peterson, Justin Durant, and Clint Ingram, aside from Smith, but the team would suffer without the versatile former Yellowjacket. Smith can play both inside and out, and although he's not spectacular, he's as solid as any linebacker, not only on the team, but in the NFL. The Jaguars pass defense would suffer greatly if Daryl Smith went down for an extended period of time.

Backup: Clint Ingram/Justin Durant

Which players do you think the Jaguars can least afford to lose to injury? Can you construct a top-five list better than the one above? Sound off in the message boards.

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