The news isn’t quite as clear on Jaguars outside linebacker
Smith, out since training camp with a groin injury, is eligible to come off the injured reserve/designated to return list Saturday. The team is currently carrying 52 players on the roster, and Head Coach Mike Mularkey said this week ideally the remaining roster spot would be used to activate Smith.
Smith practiced this week, and Mularkey said Friday a decision will be made by Saturday.
“I think he’s ready,” Mularkey said Friday as the Jaguars (2-12) prepared to play the New England Patriots (10-4) at Everbank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
“If you ask him, I guarantee you he says he’s ready, but I think he’s ready.”
Smith said he absolutely felt ready to play as of Friday.
“It’s what I’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the year,” he said. “I’m on the cusp. It’s been a good week of practice for me. I got good work in, and I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
Smith, who set a franchise record for tackles for losses last season, has been missed by a defense currently ranked 31st in the NFL in yards allowed. He not only is one of the team’s veteran leaders, but he’s also one of the team’s better run defenders and perhaps the team’s best blitzer in passing situations.
Mularkey said Smith could play extensively Sunday, but he and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker each said this week there would be discussions on how much Smith will play.
“He could play a pretty significant role,” Mularkey said. “We’ll see how he starts out.”
Also on Friday, the Jaguars released their final injury report of the week, with Jones-Drew being officially ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Jones-Drew was listed on the practice report throughout the week as not practicing, but Mularkey said he ran on the side more and worked more extensively this week than he had since sustaining a foot injury against the Oakland Raiders October 17.
Jones-Drew has missed the last eight games with the injury.
Mularkey added the team still hopes to have Jones-Drew, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and the NFL’s leading rusher last season, available for the regular-season finale at Tennessee.
“We have one game left,” Mularkey said. “We hope to have him healthy enough to play in that game.”
In other Jaguars news:
The team announced it is removing tarps from seats in four sections in EverBank Field for Sunday’s game. The tarps will be removed in Sections 403, 404, 442 and 443, and tickets will be sold in each of those sections.
There are about 3,500 seasons in those sections, and the team expects the Patriots game to be the highest number of tickets distributed this season.