Smith, the Jaguars’ nine-year veteran linebacker and the franchise’s all-time leading tackler, on Thursday was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury that kept him out the first six games of the regular season and the entire preseason.
But unlike past seasons, the move doesn’t end his season.
That’s because the Jaguars placed Smith on the league’s new injured reserve/designated to return list, allowing a player to return later in the season. Under league rules, Smith will be eligible to practice in six weeks and return in eight weeks, when the Jaguars play Miami on December 16.
Smith sustained the injury early in training camp, had a setback while the Jaguars were preparing for the regular-season opener at Minnesota, and through the first month of the season the team hoped he would return following the Jaguars’ Week 6 bye week.
He did not practice either day this week as the team prepared for Green Bay.
Smith, the team’s starting weakside linebacker, long has been one of its most productive, durable players. Before this season, he missed just six games because of injuries in eight previous NFL seasons.
He has 1,084 career tackles with 21.5 sacks, and is generally considered the team’s best pass-rushing linebacker. He set a franchise record with 15 tackles for loss last season.
Smith, a 2004 second-round selection from Georgia Tech, also had 3.5 sacks last season.