The Return of Stroud

When the Jaguars take on the Buffalo Bills this Sunday at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, they will reacquaint themselves with one of the pillars of the franchise in defensive tackle Marcus Stroud.

Stroud anchored the Jaguars defensive line from 2001-2007, and was one of the fixtures and leaders of the team when they made the transition from the Coughlin era to the Del Rio era. A three-time Pro Bowler, Stroud teamed with Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson to form the "Twin Towers" in the middle. The Stroud/Henderson combo was the best duo of defensive tackles in the league for a few seasons.

What ultimately caused Stroud to change his place of employment is injuries, as Marcus had several leg issues which helped cause him to miss 12 games over the last two seasons and severely lower his level of play. The marriage between Stroud and the Jaguars all but officially ended last season when Stroud was suspended for four games for violating the league's performance enhancing drugs policy. In the offseason, many sources cited Stroud's displeasure with the way the Jaguars failed to stand behind him, and an unnamed source told JagNation that where some team officials didn't officially tell Stroud to use the performance enhancing drugs he tested positive for, they suggested that it would help with his recovery. During the spring, Stroud demanded a trade and the Jaguars obliged.

Despite the unceremonious departure from Jacksonville, Stroud claims that he didn't have this Sunday circled on the calendar.

"Not at all man," Stroud told reporters. "Like I've been saying, it's just another game. We're trying to get another ‘W' up on our belt and keep this thing rolling."

Buffalo defensive end Chris Kelsay refuted Stroud's statement that Sunday was "just another game," and he's been chomping at the bit to get out on the field against his former team.

"I'm dying to play every game," Stroud said. "I love to be out there. Like I said, I'm not giving this game any more special attention than I would prepare any different that I would for any other game."

What has added a little more spice to Sunday's matchup is the words by Stroud's former teammate John Henderson, predicting a "butt-whipping" by the Jaguars.

"We will have to see," Stroud said confidently. "I'm not going to make any predictions. I know I'm going to go out there and play well and play hard. And I know the rest of the guys are behind me. There going to play with me, so we will just see."

One thing that will likely play into the hands of Stroud and the Bills stout front four is that the Jaguars have been hit with a rash of injuries to their offensive line. The entire starting interior of the Jacksonville line is out for Sunday, and guards Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams are out for the season. To make matters worse, backup guard Uche Nwaneri is nursing a bad knee, and backup tackle Richard Collier was shot the week prior to the season opener. Even with reserves playing, Stroud is not counting on having an easy day—

"I can't look at that. You can't go in thinking that because if you do those guys might have a career day and that's how you might end up getting beat. You got to go out and prepare whoever is out there. You give everybody the same amount of respect and that's what I'll do."

Marcus has as much of an understanding as to what they dynamic duo of Jaguars running backs can do as well as anyone, and he knows that the best way to score a victory over Jacksonville is to neutralize the run.

"You just go there and play our game," Stroud said. "We're not going to go out there and just focus on stopping those guys, we want to focus on going out there and doing our job. Everybody being in the right gap. If you have all the gaps filled it's going to be hard to run there. If we go out there and do our job and stay in our gaps, there's no where to run if the gaps are covered."

There will likely be a nice ovation when Marcus Stroud's name is announced on Sunday, as there should be. Don't expect a tear to form in his eye, because Marcus knows that he's no longer a member of the Jaguars and he has one job on Sunday afternoon, and that's to win.

"It's down to business man. When it comes down to Sunday, it's us against them and that's the mentality that I'm taking."

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